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Dithiocarbamate Complexes as Single Source Precursors to Nanoscale Binary, Ternary and Quaternary Metal Sulfides

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Jagodish C. Sarker, Graeme Hogarth

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6057-6123
Number of pages67
JournalChemical Reviews
Issue number10
Accepted/In press2021
Published26 May 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: We thank the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (J.C.S.) and the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), grant number EP/H046313 (G.H.), for funding and Professor Mark Green (King’s College London) for his interest and valuable comments. This review is dedicated to the memory of Professor Paul O’Brien CBE FRS FREng FRSC. A pioneer of the use of DTC (cited 80 times in this review) and other sulfide-containing complexes as SSPs, he ploughed this furrow when it was deeply unfashionable, but stuck at it to found NanoCo and mentor young scientists across the world, especially in Africa, where this work remains an area of intense interest with a strong reputation. Publisher Copyright: © Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

King's Authors


Nanodimensional metal sulfides are a developing class of low-cost materials with potential applications in areas as wide-ranging as energy storage, electrocatalysis, and imaging. An attractive synthetic strategy, which allows careful control over stoichiometry, is the single source precursor (SSP) approach in which well-defined molecular species containing preformed metal-sulfur bonds are heated to decomposition, either in the vapor or solution phase, resulting in facile loss of organics and formation of nanodimensional metal sulfides. By careful control of the precursor, the decomposition environment and addition of surfactants, this approach affords a range of nanocrystalline materials from a library of precursors. Dithiocarbamates (DTCs) are monoanionic chelating ligands that have been known for over a century and find applications in agriculture, medicine, and materials science. They are easily prepared from nontoxic secondary and primary amines and form stable complexes with all elements. Since pioneering work in the late 1980s, the use of DTC complexes as SSPs to a wide range of binary, ternary, and multinary sulfides has been extensively documented. This review maps these developments, from the formation of thin films, often comprised of embedded nanocrystals, to quantum dots coated with organic ligands or shelled by other metal sulfides that show high photoluminescence quantum yields, and a range of other nanomaterials in which both the phase and morphology of the nanocrystals can be engineered, allowing fine-tuning of technologically important physical properties, thus opening up a myriad of potential applications.

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