Conducting the Temperature-Dependent Conformational Change of Macrocyclic Compounds to the Lattice Dilation of Quantum Dots for Achieving an Ultrasensitive Nanothermometer

We report a ligand decoration strategy to enlarge the lattice dilation of quantum dots (QDs), which greatly enhances the characteristic sensitivity of a QD-based thermometer. Upon a multiple covalent linkage of macrocyclic compounds with QDs, for example, thiolated cyclodextrin (CD) and CdTe, the conformation-related torsional force of CD is conducted to the inner lattice of CdTe under altered temperature. The combination of the lattice expansion/contraction of CdTe and the stress from CD conformation change greatly enhances the shifts of both UV–vis absorption and photoluminescence (PL) spectra, thus improving the temperature sensitivity. As an example, β-CD-decorated CdTe QDs exhibit the 0.28 nm shift of the spectra per degree centigrade (0.28 nm/°C), 2.4-fold higher than those of monothiol-ligand-decorated QDs.