Synthesis, Characterization And Functionalization Of Silicon Nanoparticle Based Hybrid Nanomaterials For Photovoltaic And Biological Applications
Silicon nanoparticles are attractive candidates for biological, photovoltaic and energy storage applications due to their size dependent optoelectronic properties. These include tunable light emission, high brightness, and stability against photo-bleaching relative to organic dyes (see Chapter 1). The preparation and characterization of silicon nanoparticle based hybrid nanomaterials and their relevance to photovoltaic and biological applications are described. The surface-passivated silicon nanoparticles were produced in one step from the reactive high-energy ball milling (RHEBM) of silicon wafers with various organic ligands. The surface structure and optical properties of the passivated silicon nanoparticles were systematically characterized. Fast approaches for purifying and at the same time size separating the silicon nanoparticles using a gravity GPC column were developed. The hydrodynamic diameter and size distribution of these size-separated silicon nanoparticles were determined using GPC and Diffusion Ordered NMR Spectroscopy (DOSY) as fast, reliable alternative approaches to TEM. Water soluble silicon nanoparticles were synthesized by grafting PEG polymers onto functionalized silicon nanoparticles with distal alkyne or azide moieties. The surface-functionalized silicon nanoparticles were produced from the reactive high-energy ball milling (RHEBM) of silicon wafers with a mixture of either 5-chloro-1-pentyne in 1-pentyne or 1,7 octadiyne in 1-hexyne to afford air and water stable chloroalkyl or alkynyl terminated nanoparticles, respectively. Nanoparticles with the ω-chloroalkyl substituents were easily converted to ω-azidoalkyl groups through the reaction of the silicon nanoparticles with sodium azide in DMF. The azido terminated nanoparticles were then grafted with monoalkynyl-PEG polymers using a copper catalyzed alkyne-azide cycloaddition (CuAAC) reaction to afford core-shell silicon nanoparticles with a covalently attached PEG shell. Covalently linked silicon nanoparticle clusters were synthesized via the CuAAC “click” reaction of functional silicon nanoparticles with α,ω-functional PEG polymers of various lengths. Dynamic light scattering studies show that the flexible globular nanoparticle arrays undergo a solvent dependent change in volume (ethanol> dichloromethane> toluene) similar in behavior to hydrogel nanocomposites. A novel light-harvesting complex and artificial photosynthetic material based on silicon nanoparticles was designed and synthesized. Silicon nanoparticles were used as nanoscaffolds for organizing the porphyrins to form light-harvesting complexes thereby enhancing the light absorption of the system. The energy transfer from silicon nanoparticles to porphyrin acceptors was investigated by both steady-state and time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy. The energy transfer efficiency depended on the donor-acceptor ratio and the distance between the nanoparticle and the porphyrin ring. The addition of C60 resulted in the formation of silicon nanoparticle-porphyrin-fullerene nanoclusters which led to charge separation upon irradiation of the porphyrin ring. The electron-transfer process between the porphyrin and fullerene was investigated by femto-second transient absorption spectroscopy. Finally, the water soluble silicon nanoparticles were used as nanocarriers in photodynamic therapeutic application, in which can selectively deliver porphyrins into human embryonic kidney 293T (HEK293T) cells. In particular, the PEGylated alkynyl-porphyrins were conjugated onto the azido-terminated silicon nanoparticles via a CuAAC “click” reaction. The resultant PEGylated porphyrin grafted silicon nanoparticles have diameters around 13.5 ± 3.8 nm. The cryo-TEM and conventional TEM analysis proved that the PEGylated porphyrin grafted silicon nanoparticle could form the micelle-like structures at higher concentration in water via self-assembly. The UV-Vis absorption analysis demonstrated that the silicon nanoparticle could reduce the porphyrin aggregation in water which can reduce the photophysical activity of porphyrin. In addition, the nanoparticle complex was capable of producing singlet oxygen when the porphyrin units were excited by light. The cell studies demonstrated that the silicon nanoparticle could deliver the porphyrin drugs into HEK293T cells and accumulate in the mitochondria where the porphyrin could serve as an efficient photosensitizer to kill the cells via mitochondrial apoptotic pathway.