Differences in soil mobility and degradability between water-dispersible CdSe and CdSe/ZnS quantum dots. Academic Article uri icon


  • The relative leaching potential and degradation of water-dispersible CdSe and CdSe/ZnS quantum dots (QDs) were evaluated using small-scale soil columns. The potential of QDs to release toxic Cd(2+) and/or Se(2-)/SeO(3)(2-) ions upon degradation is of environmental concern and warrants investigation. Both classes of QDs exhibited limited soil mobility in CaCl(2), with more than 70% of the total Cd and Se species from QDs retained in the top soil after passing 10 column volumes of solution through the soil column. However, mobilization of Cd- and Se-species was observed when EDTA was used as the leaching solution. Approximately 98% of the total Cd(2+) loaded leached out from the Cd(2+)-spiked soil, while only 30% and 60% leached out from the CdSe and CdSe/ZnS QD-spiked soils, respectively. Soil column profiles and analysis of leachates suggest that intact QDs leached through the soil. Longer incubation (15 days) in soil prior to leaching indicated some degradation and/or surface modification of both QDs. These results suggest that chelating agents in the environment can enhance the soil mobility of intact and degraded QDs. It is apparent that QDs in soil, including the polymer-coated CdSe/ZnS QDs that are generally assumed to possess a higher degree of environmental stability, can undergo chemical transformations, which subsequently dictate their overall mobility.

published proceedings

  • Environ Sci Technol

altmetric score

  • 11.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Navarro, D. A., Banerjee, S., Watson, D. F., & Aga, D. S.

citation count

  • 30

complete list of authors

  • Navarro, Divina A||Banerjee, Sarbajit||Watson, David F||Aga, Diana S

publication date

  • August 2011