Navigating the Potential Energy Surface of CdSe Magic-Sized Clusters: Synthesis and Interconversion of Atomically Precise Nanocrystal Polymorphs

16 August 2023, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Magic-sized clusters (MSCs) are kinetically stable, atomically precise intermediates along the quantum dot (QD) reaction potential energy surface. Literature precedent establishes two classes of cadmium selenide MSCs with QD-like inorganic cores: one class is proposed to be cation-rich with a zincblende crystal structure, while the other is proposed to be stoichiometric with a “wurtzite-like” core. However, the wide range of synthetic protocols used to access MSCs has made direct comparison of their structure and surface chemistry difficult. Furthermore, the physical and chemical relationship between MSC polymorphs has yet to be established. Here, we demonstrate that both cation-rich and stoichiometric CdSe MSCs can be synthesized from identical reagents and can be interconverted through the addition of either excess cadmium or selenium precursor. The structural and compositional differences between these two polymorphs can be contrasted using a combination of 1H-NMR spectroscopy, x-ray diffraction, pair distribution function (PDF) analysis, inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy, and UV-vis transient absorption spectroscopy. The subsequent polymorph interconversion reactions are monitored by UV-vis spectroscopy, with evidence for an altered cluster atomic structure observed by powder x-ray diffraction and PDF analysis. This work helps simplify the complex picture of the CdSe nanocrystal landscape and provides a method to explore structure-property relationships in colloidal semiconductors through atomically precise synthesis.


quantum dot
magic sized cluster
atomically precise

Supplementary materials

Electronic supplementary information
Experimental methods, additional supporting data, and analysis.


Comments are not moderated before they are posted, but they can be removed by the site moderators if they are found to be in contravention of our Commenting Policy [opens in a new tab] - please read this policy before you post. Comments should be used for scholarly discussion of the content in question. You can find more information about how to use the commenting feature here [opens in a new tab] .
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy [opens in a new tab] and Terms of Service [opens in a new tab] apply.