Langmuir : the ACS journal of surfaces and colloids

Addition of Fluorescence Lifetime Spectroscopy to the Tool Kit Used to Study the Formation and Degradation of Luminescent Quantum Dots in Solution.

PMID 28245133


The increasing commercialization of consumer electronic products that make use of II-VI semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) has raised significant concerns about their impact on natural systems and human health once they are released into the environment at the end of the product's lifetime. In this paper, we demonstrate the addition of fluorescence lifetime spectroscopy to the existing tool kit of spectroscopic techniques to quantitatively monitor changes in QD properties as they form and degrade in solution. Our study reveals that because of its rich information content, fluorescence lifetime spectroscopy has a limited utility as a stand-alone technique in the study of QD formation and degradation. However, combining fluorescence lifetime spectroscopy with the commonly used emission quantum yield and peak width measurements along with other analytical methods, including ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy, transmission electron microscopy, and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry measurements, significantly enhances the existing analytical tool kit and provides the capability to monitor in real time, the formation and degradation of luminescent QDs in organic and aqueous solutions under environmentally relevant conditions.