All-Inorganic Germanium Nanocrystal Films by Cationic Ligand Exchange

Nathan Neale, Matthew Beard, Lance Wheeler, Asa Nichols, Boris Chernomordik, Nicholas Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus Citations


We introduce a new paradigm for group IV nanocrystal surface chemistry based on room temperature surface activation that enables ionic ligand exchange. Germanium nanocrystals synthesized in a gas-phase plasma reactor are functionalized with labile, cationic alkylammonium ligands rather than with traditional covalently bound groups. We employ Fourier transform infrared and 1H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopies to demonstrate the alkylammonium ligands are freely exchanged on the germanium nanocrystal surface with a variety of cationic ligands, including short inorganic ligands such as ammonium and alkali metal cations. This ionic ligand exchange chemistry is used to demonstrate enhanced transport in germanium nanocrystal films following ligand exchange as well as the first photovoltaic device based on an all-inorganic germanium nanocrystal absorber layer cast from solution. This new ligand chemistry should accelerate progress in utilizing germanium and other group IV nanocrystals for optoelectronic applications.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1949-1954
Number of pages6
JournalNano Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - 9 Mar 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Chemical Society.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-65566


  • Germanium nanocrystal
  • inorganic ligand
  • ligand exchange
  • plasma synthesis
  • quantum dot


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