Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Chemistry (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Francisco M. Raymo - Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

Angel E. Kaifer - Committee Member

Third Committee Member

Vaidyanathan Ramamurthy - Committee Member

Fourth Committee Member

Richard A. DeFazio - Committee Member


A new strategy was developed to switch the luminescence of semiconductor quantum dots with chemical stimulations. It is based on the photoinduced transfer of either energy from CdSe-ZnS core-shell quantum dots to [1,3]oxazine ligands or electrons from the organic to the inorganic components. Upon addition of base or acid, energy or electron transfer pathways respectively become operative, leading to changes in the luminescence of the nanoparticles. These changes are fully reversible and can be exploited to probe the pH of aqueous solutions from 3 up to 11 and this design can lead to the development of pH-sensitive luminescent probes for biomedical applications based on the semiconductor quantum dots. Secondly, an operating principle to transduce the supramolecular association of complementary receptor-substrate pairs into an enhancement in the luminescence of sensitive quantum dots was identified. This system is based on the electrostatic adsorption of cationic quenchers on the surface of anionic quantum dots. The adsorbed quenchers efficiently suppress the emission character of the associated nanoparticles on the basis of photoinduced electron transfer. In the presence of target receptors able to bind the quenchers and prevent electron transfer, however, the luminescence of the quantum dots is restored. Thus, complementary receptor-substrate pairs can be identified with luminescence measurements relying on this system and this protocol can be adapted to signal protein-ligand interactions. Thirdly, a photochromic spiropyran with dithiolane appendage to adsorb on the surface of cadmium sulfide system was designed. The properties of the resulting photochrome-nanoparticle assemblies vary significantly with the experimental conditions selected for the preparation of the inorganic component. Finally, photochromic materials based on the photoinduced transfer of electrons from CdSe-ZnS core-shell quantum dots to bipyridinium dications were developed.


Sensors; Energy Transfer; Electron Transfer; Cadmium Selenide; Cadmium Sulfide; Oxazines; Spiropyran; Photochromism