Energy and health issues present substantial challenges for every nation. In our country, the growing demand for energy and the need to reduce fossil fuel consumption drive the development of renewable energy sources. On the other hand, the Covid-19 pandemic has underscored the significance of health-related matters, which profoundly influence a nation’s progress.
Regarding energy, at least two essential components are required for addressing these challenges: energy harvesting devices and energy storage systems to enable energy self-sufficiency. In the realm of health, the pandemic has highlighted the need for interdisciplinary efforts to address complex and extensive health-related issues.
One promising solution to accommodate the challenges in both energy and health domains is the development of cutting-edge materials, particularly those based on Quantum Dots (QDs).
Quantum Dots (QDs), as a type of nano-sized material, are highly intriguing due to their three-dimensional quantum confinement effects. This phenomenon arises in materials with dimensions smaller than or equal to the Bohr exciton radius. Quantum confinement effects result in the formation of discrete energy levels, leading to quantized energy states in QDs, resulting in exceptional and unique properties such as tunable electrical and optical characteristics. By controlling the size of QDs, changes in energy band gaps can be manipulated, yielding different emission wavelengths.
Therefore, QDs are considered groundbreaking in the field of optoelectronics. Moreover, QDs find broad applications in various areas, including energy harvesting (solar cells and thermoelectric energy harvesting systems), light-emitting diodes (LEDs), displays, and more. Various constituent materials have been explored for QD applications, including transition metal chalcogenides (e.g., PbS, CdSe), perovskites (e.g., CsPbBr3), and carbon-based QDs (e.g., carbon QDs, graphene QDs). As a result, the potential of QDs extends far beyond optoelectronic applications.
Our group, in collaboration with the RIKEN group, has recently reported preliminary studies on the potential of QDs in energy storage materials such as supercapacitors and batteries. In these applications, QDs exhibit quantum supercapacitance effects. Some characteristics, such as high electrical conductivity, excellent structural stability, and high wettability, can enhance the performance of energy storage devices. Furthermore, various other properties can emerge with QD size adjustments. However, the exploitation of quantum phenomena (i.e., quantum capacitance) is not yet extensively explored, resulting in performance that is not yet optimal.
In addition to the mentioned applications, QDs can also find use in the field of medicine, both as imaging agents and for therapeutic purposes. Several groups have reported the potential use of QDs as biosensors in drug delivery systems and as photothermal agents in cancer treatment. Here, QDs operate based on electron excitation due to light exposure, resulting in light or phonon emission.
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