When Ligand Exchange Leads to Ion Exchange: Nanocrystal Facets Dictate the Outcome

This study demonstrates that ligand exchange of nanocrystals (NCs) is not always an innocuous process, but can lead to facile (room temperature) ion exchange, depending on the surface crystal faceting. Rock salt PbTe NCs prepared as cubes with neutral facets undergo room-temperature ligand exchange with sulfide ions, whereas cuboctahedron-shaped particles with neutral {100} and polar {111} facets are transformed to PbS, driven by ion exchange along the ⟨111⟩ direction. Likewise, cation exchange (with Ag<sup>+</sup>) occurs rapidly for cuboctahedra, whereas cubes remain inert. This dramatic difference is attributed to the relative surface area of {111} facets that promote rapid ion exchange and shows how facet engineering is a powerful knob for the control of reaction pathways in nanoparticles.