MRS Bulletin

Technical Feature

Technical Feature

Nanocrystal solids: A modular approach to materials design

Dmitri V. Talapina1

a1 Department of Chemistry at the University of Chicago;


Colloidal nanocrystals can combine the benefits of inorganic semiconductors with size-tunable electronic structure and inexpensive solution-based device fabrication. Single- and multicomponent nanocrystal assemblies, also known as superlattices, provide a powerful general platform for designing two- and three-dimensional solids with tailored electronic, magnetic, and optical properties. Such assemblies built of “designer atoms” can be considered as a novel type of condensed matter, whose behavior depends both on the properties of individual building blocks and on the interactions between them. Efficient charge transport is crucial for applications of nanocrystal-based materials in various electronic and optoelectronic devices. For a long time, nanocrystals were considered poor electronic conductors. To facilitate charge transport, we developed novel surface chemistry using all-inorganic ligands, namely metal chalcogenide complexes that transformed colloidal nanomaterials into a very competitive class of solution-processed semiconductors for electronic, thermoelectric, and photovoltaic applications.

Key Words:

  • Nanostructure;
  • semiconducting;
  • self-assembly;
  • quasicrystal;
  • electronic material


This article is based on the Outstanding Young Investigator Award lecture, presented by Dmitri V. Talapin on April 26, 2011, at the 2011 Materials Research Society Spring Meeting in San Francisco. The Outstanding Young Investigator Award has been established to recognize outstanding interdisciplinary materials research by a young scientist or engineer. Talapin is recognized “for methodological developments of synthesis and self-assembly of inorganic nanocrystals and for fundamental studies transforming colloidal nanostructures into electronic and optoelectronic materials.”