One-step Aqueous synthesis of Zn-based Quantum Dots as Potential Generators of reactive Oxygen Species Academic Article uri icon


  • The actual incorporation of dopant species into the ZnS Quantum Dots (QDs) host lattice will induce structural defects evidenced by a red shift in the corresponding exciton. The doping should create new intermediate energetic levels between the valence and conduction bands of the ZnS and affect the electron-hole recombination. These trap states would favour the energy transfer processes involved with the generation of cytotoxic radicals, so-called Reactive Oxygen Species, opening the possibility to apply these nanomaterials in cancer research. Any synthesis approach should consider the direct formation of the QDs in biocompatible medium. Accordingly, the present work addresses the microwave-assisted aqueous synthesis of pure and doped ZnS QDs. As-synthesized quantum dots were fully characterized on a structural, morphological and optical viewpoint. UV-Vis analyzes evidenced the excitonic peaks at approximately 310 nm, 314 nm and 315 nm for ZnS, Cu-ZnS and Mn-ZnS, respectively, Cu/Zn and Mn/Zn molar ratio was 0.05%. This indicates the actual incorporation of the dopant species into the host lattice. In addition, the Photoluminescence spectrum of non-doped ZnS nanoparticles showed a high emission peak that was red shifted when Mn2+ or Cu2+ were added during the synthesis process. The main emission peak of non-doped ZnS, Cu-doped ZnS and Mn-doped ZnS were observed at 438 nm, 487 nm and 521 nm, respectively. Forthcoming work will address the capacity of pure and Cu-, Mn-ZnS quantum dots to generate cytotoxic Reactive Oxygen Species for cancer treatment applications.

publication date

  • 2019