Quantum Dot Research in the Niezgoda Lab
Quantum dots are a fascinating group of materials that were discovered and characterized during the burst of nanoscience that has occurred over the last couple decades. Quantum dots are semiconductor nanocrystals whose size is so small, we can think them as zero-dimensional. In reality, they range in diameter from less than 1 nanometer (1 billionth of a meter) to tens of nanometers, containing hundreds to thousands of atoms. Interestingly, at this tiny size scale, these crystals exhibit properties that they wouldn't at larger sizes. Nanoscientists can tune the color of light these quantum dots emit (LEDs in TVs), they can adjust the energy of light they absorb (solar cells, photocatalysis), and they can use them as fluorescent markers for linking and tracking or delivering other chemicals (cell protein tracking, drug delivery).
Transmission electron microscopy image of a single quantum dot
Each line you see is a single row of atoms!
The Niezgoda lab's current research at SJU focuses on the chemical tailoring of surface bound molecules, or "ligands", on quantum dots. Specifically, the Niezgoda lab is interested in using known and polished quantum dot synthetic methods as scaffolds upon which to introduce previously unused chemicals onto their surface. These new chemicals can open myriad new optoelectronic and physical properties for the crystals, such as site-guided specific linking to given protein binding sites and chemical cross-linking of different specific types of dots. Undergraduate researchers in the Niezgoda lab will gain experience in both traditional chemical synthetic methods, as well as cutting-edge techniques in nanoscience through work with a new glovebox system, Schlenk line, and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) studies.