This literature article covers a range of topics introduced in a sophomore level course (confinement/particle-in-a-box, spectroscopy, kinetics, mechanism) and would serve as a an end-of-course integrated activity, or as a review activity in an upper level course. The authors of the article employ UV-vis absorption spectroscopy of CdSe quantum dots as a tool to probe the growth mechanism of the nanoparticles, contrasting two pathways.
Reference: DOI 10.1021/ja3079576 J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, 134, 17298-17305
Apply the particle in a box model to interpret absorbance spectra with respect to nanoparticle size.
Analyze the step-growth and living chain-growth mechanisms proposed in this paper.
Evaluate the kinetics as it applies to the step-addition.
Sophomore level implementation: Recommend focusing on select portions (e.g. Figures 1b, 2, 5 with corresponding text) of the paper rather than having students read the entire document. The learning objects focus on select topics, such as particle-in-a-box, reaction mechanism, and kinetics in conjunction with absorbance spectroscopy. This would be a good literature discussion resource for an end-of-course integrative experience that encompasses multiple topics from general chemistry and inorganic chemistry.
Advance level implementation: For an upper division course, incorporate the paper in its entirety early in the course as an assessment on students’ ability to integrate multiple concepts that they should have learned in general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physical chemistry. To enhance the experience, accompanying the literature discussion on this paper with a laboratory experience by repeating the experimental and characterization procedures presented in the paper, and having students' compare their results with published results. This also serves to enhance students’ scientific literacy by critically assessing the quality of the paper.
Excerpts of the paper and questions can be used on a graded event, or as lesson preparation for in class discussion.