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Pure Appl. Chem., 2000, Vol. 72, No. 1-2, pp. 3-9

Colloidal quantum dots. From scaling laws to biological applications

Paul Alivisatos

Departments of Chemistry and Materials Science, University of California, Berkeley and Materials Science Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Abstract: Over a twenty-year period, condensed matter physicists and physical chemists have elucidated a series of scaling laws which successfully describe the size dependence of solid state properties [1,2]. Often the experiments were performed under somewhat exotic conditions, for instance on mass-selected clusters isolated in molecular beams or on quantum dots grown by molecular beam epitaxy and interrogated at low temperatures and in high magnetic fields. As a result, we now have an understanding of how thermodynamic, optical, electrical, and magnetic properties evolve from the atomic to the solid state limit. This area of research is presently undergoing a remarkable transformation. The scaling laws, previously the direct subject of research, now provide a tool for the design of advanced new materials. In the case of colloidal quantum dots, or semiconductor nanocrystals, these new insights are poised to have impact in disciplines remote from solid state physics [3].