Authors: Rojas-Hernandez, RE; Rubio-Marcos, F; Gorni, G; Marini, C; Danilson, M; Pascual, L; Ichikawa, RU; Hussainova, I; Fernandez, JF

J. Mater. Chem. C. vol: 9. page: 2050-7526.
Date: JAN 14. 2021.
Doi: 10.1039/d0tc04752j.

Development of new near infrared luminescent (NIR) emitters improves our understanding of their fundamental structure-property relationships. The ability to use efficient energy transfer to convert ultraviolet or visible light photons to enhance the NIR emission has attracted a great deal of attention in down-conversion applications. Taking advantage of the sol-gel impregnation process and growth of materials along a support or template, core-shell structured nanofibers of ZnAl2O4 – based ceramic doped with cerium and neodymium were synthesized with the help of an elaborate facile and cost-efficient strategy. The color-tunable emissions make this material a suitable host for a wide range of applications, e.g., bio-imaging, security markers, imaging devices, optical coatings, and solar cells. This research correlates the defects and the remarkable optical properties of the developed structures. Specified conditions of sol-gel processing combined with the incorporation of rare-earth elements in various concentrations provide the possibility of tuning the ratio between Ce3+ and Ce4+ in the nanofibers with an average diameter of 50 nm and, therefore, their functional response. It is important to clarify the role of trivalent and tetravalent cerium cations in the modulation of NIR emission to establish the luminescence mechanism. The NIR emitter luminescent compound ZnAl2O4:Nd,Ce, which adopts a spinel-type structure, is studied using the X-ray absorption near-edge structure technique. For the first time, this study reveals the energy transfer from Ce3+ to Nd3+ and the enhancement of the NIR emission due to the presence of Ce4+ in the ZnAl2O4:Nd,Ce spinel compound. Cytotoxicity analyses suggest the viability of the synthesized nanofibers, which opens new avenues in bio-imaging applications..