Lanthanide-doped upconverting nanoparticles (UCNPs) have the ability to convert low energy photons into high energy photons, making this material appealing for a variety of scientific pursuits, from solar energy conversion to bioimaging. A combination of polymers and nanocomposites increases the utility of these upconverting nanoparticles allowing nanoparticles to be added to any device compatible with polymer coatings. Here, trifluoroacetate salt decomposition enables Er/Yb doped NaYF4 upconverting nanoparticle synthesis. The subsequent deposition of a silica nanoshell yields polar silica-coated upconverting nanoparticles, enabling composite formation with polar urea-containing methacrylic polymers. Hydrogen bonding between urea groups in the polymer and the silica-coated nanoparticles allowed for dispersion of the upconverting nanoparticles to form upconverting composite films. These films exhibit desirable upconversion comparable to the nanoparticles dispersed in methanol. Urea-containing polymers are promising candidates for matrices in nanocomposites formed with polar silica nanoparticles due to favorable polymer-nanoparticle interactions. This architecture is superior to urea-methacrylate homopolymers, since the central low glass transition temperature block will provide critical ductility to the film, thus rendering the film to be durable for optical applications.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Chemistry