Aminophosphine Reduction Mechanisms and the Synthesis of Indium Phosphide Nanomaterials
Indium phosphide (InP) nanomaterials are attractive for countless technological applications due to their well-placed band gap energies. The quantum confinement of these semiconductors can give rise to size-dependent absorption and emission features throughout the entire visible spectrum. Therefore, InP materials can be employed as low-toxicity fluorophores that can be implemented in high value avenues such as biological probes, lighting applications, and lasing technologies. However, large scale development of these quantum dots (QDs) has been stymied by the lack of affordable and safe phosphorus precursors. Syntheses have largely been restricted to the use of dangerous chemicals such as tris(trimethylsilyl)phosphine ((TMS)₃P), which is costly and highly sensitive to oxygen and water. Recently, less-hazardous tris(dialkylamino)phosphines have been introduced to produce InP QDs on par with those utilizing (TMS)₃P. However, a poor understanding of the reaction mechanics has resulted in difficulties tuning and optimizing this method. In this work, density functional theory (DFT) is used to identify the mechanism of this aminophosphine precursor conversion. This understanding is then implemented to design an improved InP QD synthesis, allowing for the production of high-quality materials outside of glovebox conditions. Time is spent understanding the impact of different precursor salts on the reaction mechanisms and discerning their subsequent effects on nanoparticle size and quality. The motivation of this work is to formulate safer and less technical indium phosphide quantum dot syntheses to foster non-specialist and industrial implementation of these materials.