White light emission of Eu3+-based hybrid xerogels
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The luminescence spectra and extended x-ray-absorption fine-structure (EXAFS) measurements of a series of Eu3+-based organic/inorganic xerogels were reported and related to the local coordination of the lanthanide cations. The hybrid matrix of these organically modified silicates, classed as U(2000) ureasils, is a siliceous network to which short organic chains containing oxyethylene units are covalently grafted by means of urea bridges. The luminescent centers were incorporated as europium triflate, Eu(CF3SO3)3, and europium bromide, EuBr3, with concentrations 200≥n≥20 and n=80, 40, and 30, respectively - where n is the number of ether oxygens in the polymer chains per Eu3+ cation. EXAFS measurements were carried out in some of the U(2000)nEu(CF3SO3)3 xerogels (n=200, 80, 60, and 40). The obtained coordination numbers N ranging from 12.8, n=200, to 9.7, n=40, whereas the average Eu3+ first neighbors distance R is 2.48-2.49 Å. The emission spectra of these multiwavelength phosphors superpose a broad green-blue band to a series of yellow-red narrow 5D0→7F0-4 Eu3+ lines and to the eye the hybrids appeared to be white, even at room temperature. The ability to tune the emission of the xerogels to colors across the chromaticity diagram is achieved by changing the excitation wavelength and the amount of salt incorporated in the hybrid host. The local environment of Eu3+ is described as a continuous distribution of closely similar low-symmetry network sites. The cations are coordinated by the carbonyl groups of the urea moieties, water molecules, and, for U(2000)nEu(CF3SO3)3, by the SO3 end groups of the triflate anions. No spectral evidences have been found for the coordination by the ether oxygens of the polyether chains. A mean radius for the first coordination shell of Eu3+ is calculated on the basis of the emission energy assignments. The results obtained for U(2000)nEu(CF3SO3)3, 2.4 Å for 90 ≥n≥40 and 2.6 and 2.5 Å for n=30 and 20, respectively, are in good agreement with the values calculated from EXAFS measurements. The energy of the intraconfigurational charge-transfer transitions, the redshift of the 5D0→7F0 line, with respect to the value calculated for gaseous Eu3+, and the hypersensitive ratio between the 5D0→7F2 and 5D0→7F1 transitions, point out a rather low covalency nature of the Eu3+ first coordination shell in these xerogels, comparing to the case of analogous polymer electrolytes modified by europium bromide. ©1999 The American Physical Society.