Synthesis of nanoparticles of the reactive metal variety are quite
difficult to control and often difficult to scale-up in production. To
meet this challenge, investigators at University of California at
Berkeley have synthesized nanoparticles of both a metal and
semiconductor nature using a novel method. This new synthesis method
employing covalent bonding schemes to strongly bond multiple reactive
metals directly to a carbon molecule of the ligand while retaining a
high level of ambient environment stability, which is problematic with
current synthesis schemes for reactive metals. Using this innovation,
the length of the ligand can be tailored to gain better passivation and
conductivity (or semiconductive properties) from the particles.
The metal and metal core, oxide shell nanoparticles have broad applications from ambient stable nanoparticle transistors to stable quantum dots for cellular and single molecule imaging. These reactive metals (ex. aluminum, germanium) are normally not employed at such size scales not due to the lack of applicability, but to the lack of control over the synthesis process and stability, especially in ambient environments. In many cases such reactive metals are far better suited to energy storage, collection, imaging, etc. than currently used species such as gold, silver, CdSe and CdTe, but due to current ease of synthesis and stability, they are not used.