Nonthermal plasma synthesis of metal sulfide nanocrystals from metalorganic vapor and elemental sulfur

Elijah Thimsen, Uwe R. Kortshagen, Eray S. Aydil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nanocrystal synthesis in nonthermal plasmas has been focused on elemental group IV semiconductors such as Si and Ge. In contrast, very little is known about plasma synthesis of compound nanocrystals and the time is ripe to extend this synthesis approach to nanocrystals comprised of two or more elements such as metal sulfides, oxides and nitrides. Towards this end, we studied, in an argon-sulfur plasma, the synthesis of ZnS, Cu2S and SnS nanocrystals from metalorganic precursors diethyl Zn(II), hexafluoroacetylacetonate Cu(I) vinyltrimethylsilane, and tetrakis(dimethylamido) Sn(IV), respectively. In situ optical emission spectroscopy was used to observe changes in relative concentrations of various plasma species during synthesis, while ex situ material characterization was used to examine the crystal structure, elemental composition and optical absorption of these nanocrystals. For a constant metalorganic vapor feed rate, the elemental composition of the nanocrystals was found to be independent of the sulfur flow rate into the plasma, above a small threshold value. At constant sulfur flow rate, the nanocrystal composition depended on the metalorganic vapor feed rate. Specifically, the ensemble metal atomic fraction in the nanocrystals was found to increase with increasing metalorganic vapor flow rates, resulting in more metal-rich crystal phases. The metalorganic feed rate can be used to control the composition and crystal phase of the metal-sulfide nanocrystals synthesized using this plasma process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number314004
JournalJournal of Physics D: Applied Physics
Issue number31
StatePublished - Aug 12 2015


  • aerosol
  • battery
  • light emitting diode
  • metal sulfide
  • nanocrystal
  • optical emission spectroscopy
  • solar cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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