Synthesis of water-soluble Ni(II) complexes and their role in photo-induced electron transfer with MPA-CdTe quantum dots

  • Niharika Krishna Botcha
  • Rithvik R. Gutha
  • Seyed M. Sadeghi
  • Anusree MukherjeeEmail author
Original article


Photocatalytic water splitting using solar energy for hydrogen production offers a promising alternative form of storable and clean energy for the future. To design an artificial photosynthesis system that is cost-effective and scalable, earth abundant elements must be used to develop each of the components of the assembly. To develop artificial photosynthetic systems, we need to couple a catalyst for proton reduction to a photosensitizer and understand the mechanism of photo-induced electron transfer from the photosensitizer to the catalyst that serves as the fundamental step for photocatalysis. Therefore, our work is focused on the study of light driven electron transfer kinetics from the quantum dot systems made with inorganic chalcogenides in the presence of Ni-based reduction catalysts. Herein, we report the synthesis and characterization of four Ni(II) complexes of tetradentate ligands with amine and pyridine functionalities (N2/Py2) and their interactions with CdTe quantum dots stabilized by 3-mercaptopropionic acid. The lifetime of the quantum dots was investigated in the presence of the Ni complexes and absorbance, emission and electrochemical measurements were performed to gain a deeper understanding of the photo-induced electron transfer process.

Graphic abstract


Nickel complexes Quantum dots Photo-induced electron transfer Biomimetic systems Artificial photosynthesis 



Artificial photosynthesis


Quantum dots


3-Mercaptopropionic acid




Stern–Volmer quenching constant


Bimolecular quenching rate constant


Time-correlated single-photon counting




Valence band energy level


Conduction band energy level


Normal hydrogen electrode


Nuclear magnetic resonance


Electrospray ionization mass spectrometry


Room temperature



This work was funded by the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Individual Investigator Distinguished Research (IIDR) awards to Anusree Mukherjee and Seyed M. Sadeghi.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing financial interest.

Supplementary material

11120_2019_668_MOESM1_ESM.docx (8.9 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 9114 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Niharika Krishna Botcha
    • 1
  • Rithvik R. Gutha
    • 2
  • Seyed M. Sadeghi
    • 2
  • Anusree Mukherjee
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryThe University of Alabama in HuntsvilleHuntsvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Physics and AstronomyThe University of Alabama in HuntsvilleHuntsvilleUSA

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