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Danylo Zherebetskyy and his colleagues at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) found unexpected traces of water in semiconducting nanocrystals. The water as a source of small ions for the surface of colloidal lead sulfide (PbS) nanoparticles allowed the team to explain just how the surface of these important particles are passivated, meaning how they achieve an overall balance of positive and negative ions. This has been a big question for some fifteen years, and the answer washes up in hydroxyl groups from water that had been thought not to be there. The image above shows the calculated atomic structure of a 5nm diameter nanocrystal passivated with oleate and hydroxyl ligands.

Learn more in the press release "Unexpected Water Explains Surface Chemistry of Nanocrystals."