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We report room-temperature cathodoluminescence and photoluminescence spectra originating from ZnS overcoated CdSe nanocrystals, 33 and 42 Å in diameter, embedded in a ZnS matrix. The thin-film quantum dot composites were synthesized by electrospray organometallic chemical vapor deposition. Cathodoluminescence and photoluminescence are dominated by the sharp band-edge emission characteristic of the initial nanocrystals. The emission wavelength can be tuned in a broad window (470–650 nm) by varying the size of the dots. The cathodoluminescence intensity depends on the crystallinity of the ZnS matrix and the voltage and current density applied. © 1997 American Institute of Physics.