• Martin, T.R.; Mazzio, K.A.; Hillhouse, H.W.; Luscombe, C.K.: Synthesis of Ligand-free CdS Nanoparticles within a Sulfur Copolymer Matrix. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE 111 (2016), p. e54047/1-9 + video

Open Access Version

Aliphatic ligands are typically used during the synthesis of nanoparticles to help mediate their growth in addition to operating as high-temperature solvents. These coordinating ligands help solubilize and stabilize the nanoparticles while in solution, and can influence the resulting size and reactivity of the nanoparticles during their formation. Despite the ubiquity of using ligands during synthesis, the presence of aliphatic ligands on the nanoparticle surface can result in a number of problems during the end use of the nanoparticles, necessitating further ligand stripping or ligand exchange procedures. We have developed a way to synthesize cadmium sulfide (CdS) nanoparticles using a unique sulfur copolymer. This sulfur copolymer is primarily composed of elemental sulfur, which is a cheap and abundant material. The sulfur copolymer has the advantages of operating both as a high temperature solvent and as a sulfur source, which can react with a cadmium precursor during nanoparticle synthesis, resulting in the generation of ligand free CdS. During the reaction, only some of the copolymer is consumed to produce CdS, while the rest remains in the polymeric state, thereby producing a nanocomposite material. Once the reaction is finished, the copolymer stabilizes the nanoparticles within a solid polymeric matrix. The copolymer can then be removed before the nanoparticles are used, which produces nanoparticles that do not have organic coordinating ligands. This nascent synthesis technique presents a method to produce metal- sulfide nanoparticles for a wide variety of applications where the presence of organic ligands is not desired.