Synthesis and luminescence properties of water dispersible Eu3+-doped boehmite nanoparticles
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Nanocrystallized boehmite gamma-AlOOH center dot nH(2)O had been synthesized by spray-drying (SD) of a solution of aluminium tri-sec-butoxide peptized by nitric acid. The sub-micronic spherical particles obtained had an average diameter of 500 nm and were built of 100 nm or less platelet-like sub-particles. The average crystallite size calculated from XRD was 1.6 nm following the b axis (i.e. one unit cell) and 3-4 nm perpendicular to b. As a result of the nanometric sizes of crystallites, there was a large surface free for water adsorption and it was found to be n = 1.18 +/- 0.24H(2)O per AlOOH. The SD spheres spontaneously dispersed in water at room temperature and formed stable-over months-suspensions with nanometre-size particles (25-85 nm). Luminescent europium-doped nanocrystallized boehmites AlOOH: Eu (Al0.98Eu0.02OOH center dot nH(2)O) were synthesized the same way by SD and demonstrated the same crystallization properties and morphologies as the undoped powders. It is inferred from the Eu3+ luminescence spectroscopy that partly hydrated europium species are immobilized on the boehmite nanocrystals where they are directly bonded to alpha(OH) groups of the AlOOH surface. The europium coordination is schematically written [Eu3+(OH)(alpha)(H2O)(7-alpha/2)]. The europium-doped boehmite from SD spontaneously dispersed in water: the luminescence spectroscopy proves that most of the Eu3+ ions were detached from the NPs during water dispersion. The AlOOH: Eu nanoparticles were modified by the amine acid asparagine (ASN). The modification aimed to render the NPs compatible for further bio-functionalization. After surface modification, the NPs easily dispersed in water; the luminescence spectra after dispersion prove that the Eu3+ ions were held at the boehmite surface.