This study aims at rationalizing the effects of the lead/surfactant ratio on the structural evolution of cesium lead-bromide perovskite nanocrystals (NCs), ascertaining how their shape and surface composition can be modulated by suitably adjusting the ligand amount (an equivolumetric mixture of oleic acid and oleyl amine) relatively to lead bromide. The tailoring of the reaction conditions allows the obtainment of blue-emitting CsPbBr3 nanoplatelets in the presence of ligand excess, while green-emitting nanocubes are achieved under low-surfactant conditions. An insight into the NC's shape evolution dictated by the different reaction conditions suggests that the generation of CsPbBr3 nanoplatelets is controlled by the dimensions of [(RNH3)2(PbBr4)]n layers formed before the injection of cesium oleate. The growth step promoted by preformed layers is concomitant to (but independent from) the nucleation process of lead-based species, leading to centrosymmetric nanocubes (prevalent in low-surfactant regimes) or Cs4PbBr6 NCs (prevalent in high-surfactant regimes). The proposed NC growth is supported by the analysis of the optical properties of non-purified samples, which reveal the selective presence of structures endowed with four cell unit average thickness accompanying larger emissive nanocubes. By combining nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and UV-Vis spectroscopy techniques, it is ascertained that the lead/surfactant ratio also controls the relative proportion between lead-based species (PBr2, PbBr3-, PbBr42- and plausibly PbBr53- or PbBr64-) formed before cesium injection, which regulate the size of [(RNH3)2(PbBr4)]n layers as well as the formation of Cs4PbBr6 NCs during the nucleation stage. The surface chemistry of the differently structured perovskite NCs is investigated by correlating the elemental composition of the nanoparticles with specific NMR signals ascribable to the surface ligands. This level of investigation also sheds light on the stability of the time-dependent fluorescence exhibited by differently composed perovskite NCs before the loss of their colloidal integrity. Our findings can bring about a fine tuning of the synthetic methods currently employed for controlling the shape and surface chemistry of perovskite NCs.
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