Luminescent, water-soluble silicon quantum dots via micro-plasma surface treatment

Jeslin J. Wu, Vighneswara Siva Santosh Kumar Kondeti, Peter J. Bruggeman, Uwe R. Kortshagen

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14 Scopus citations


Silicon quantum dots (SiQDs), with their broad absorption, narrow and size-tunable emission, and potential biocompatibility are highly attractive materials in biological imaging applications. The inherent hydrophobicity and instability of hydrogen-terminated SiQDs are obstacles to their widespread implementation. In this work, we successfully produced highly luminescent, hydrophilic SiQDs with long-term stability in water using non-thermal plasma techniques. Hydrogen-terminated SiQDs were produced in a low-pressure plasma and subsequently treated in water using an atmospheric-pressure plasma jet for surface modification. Preliminary assessments of the chemical mechanism(s) involved in the creation of water-soluble SiQDs were performed using Fenton's reaction and various plasma chemistries, suggesting both OH and O species play a key role in the oxidation of the SiQDs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number08LT02
JournalJournal of Physics D: Applied Physics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jan 27 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Nanocrystal synthesis and material characterization were supported by the National Science Foundation, MRSEC Program under grant DMR-1420013, and micro-plasma treatment was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Fusion Energy Sciences, Department of Energy Plasma Science Center Program under award number DE-SC0001939. Parts of this work were carried out in the College of Science and Engineering Characterization Facility, University of Minnesota, which receives partial support from NSF through the NNIN program.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 IOP Publishing Ltd.


  • luminescence
  • micro-plasma
  • silicon quantum dots
  • water soluble

MRSEC Support

  • Partial


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