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Unlike bulk silicon, a spectacularly dull material, ultrasmall silicon nanoparticles are spectacularly efficient at emitting light in RGB colours. In addition to being ultrabright, reconstituted films of particles exhibit stimulated emission. Light-emitting Si devices could eventually result in a laser on a chip, new generation of Si chips, and extend the functionality of Si technology from microelectronics into optoelectronics and biophotonics. We present in this review experimental as well as theoretical and simulations results discussing the synthesis, structure, and the wide-ranging optical, electronic, mechanical and (derivatized) biocompatible properties and applications of the particles. We discuss the basic mechanism behind the multi-novel properties in terms of silicon–hydrogen configurations of filled fullerene. With a tetrahedral core and a strong molecule-like reconstruction of the surface, the particles constitute a new phase or “supermolecule” that exhibits solid-like behaviour as well as molecule-like behaviour.


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