Insights into the Formation Mechanism of CdSe Nanoplatelets Using in situ X-ray Scattering

Two dimensional ultra thin CdSe nanoplatelets have attracted a large interest due to their optical properties but their formation mechanism is not well understood. Several different mechanisms have been proposed: confined growth in a surfactant mesophase acting as a template, anisotropic ripening of small seeds into 2D nanoplatelets or continuous anisotropic growth of a limited number of nuclei. However, quantitative in situ data that could validate or disprove these formation scenarios are lacking. We use synchrotron-based small-angle and wide-angle X-ray scattering to probe the formation mechanism of CdSe nanoplatelets synthesized using a heating-up method. We prove the absence of a molecular mesophase in the reactive medium at the onset of nanoplatelet formation ruling out a templating effect. We also show that our data are inconsistent with the anisotropic ripening of small seeds whereas the evolution of the SAXS patterns during the reaction is consistent with the continuous lateral growth of nanoplatelets fed by reactive monomers. Finally, we show that when the final temperature of the synthesis is lowered, nanoplatelets with larger lateral dimensions form. We reveal that they bend in solution during their growth to yield nanoscrolls.