Indium phosphide quantum dots have become an industrially relevant material for solid-state lighting and wide color gamut displays. The synthesis of indium phosphide quantum dots from indium carboxylates and tris(trimethylsilyl)phosphine (P(SiMe3)3) is understood to proceed through the formation of magic-sized clusters, with In37P20(O2CR)51 being the key isolable intermediate. The reactivity of the In37P20(O2CR)51 cluster is a vital parameter in controlling conversion to quantum dots. Here, we report structural perturbations to In37P20(O2CR)51 clusters induced by tuning the steric properties of a series of substituted phenylacetate ligands. This approach allows for control over reactivity with P(SiMe3)3, where meta-substituents enhance the susceptibility to ligand displacement and para-substituents hinder phosphine diffusion to the core. Thermolysis studies show that with complete cluster dissolution, steric profile can modulate the nucleation period, whereas partial dissolution from indium carboxylate loss results in conversion to uniform InP cores with a narrow, 419 nm absorbance. The enhanced stability from ligand engineering also allows for the isolation and structural characterization by single-crystal X-ray diffraction of a new III-V magic-sized cluster with formula In26P13(O2CR)39. This intermediate is thought to precede the In37P20(O2CR)51 cluster on the InP reaction coordinate. The physical and electronic structure of this cluster are analyzed, providing new insight into previously unrecognized relationships between II-VI and III-V materials and the discrete growth of III-V cluster intermediates.
Complete experimental methods and supplementary data (NMR, PDF, Raman, FTIR, UV-Vis, kinetics, global fits, pXRD, TEM, crystallographic tables, and DFT calculations).