Structure-properties correlation in Si nanoparticles by total scattering and computer simulations

Valeri Petkov, Colin M. Hessel, Justine Ovtchinnikoff, Adrien Guillaussier, Brian A. Korgel, Xiaofeng Liu, Cristina Giordano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


High-energy synchrotron X-ray diffraction coupled to atomic pair distribution function analysis and computer simulations is used to determine the atomic-scale structure of silicon (Si) nanoparticles obtained by two different synthetic routes. Results show that Si nanoparticles may have significant structural differences depending on the synthesis route and surface chemistry. In this case, one method produced Si nanoparticles that are highly crystalline but surface oxidized, whereas a different method yields organic ligand-passivated nanoparticles without surface oxide but that are structurally distorted at the atomic scale. Particular structural features of the oxide-free Si nanoparticles such as average first coordination numbers, length of structural coherence, and degree of local distortions are compared to their optical properties such as photoluminescence emission energy, quantum yield, and Raman spectra. A clear structure-properties correlation is observed indicating that the former may need to be taken into account when considering the latter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2365-2371
Number of pages7
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 11 2013


  • Si nanoparticles
  • atomic PDFs analysis
  • nanoparticle structure modeling
  • optical properties-nanostructure correlation
  • synchrotron X-ray diffraction


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