Journal of Sol-Gel Science and Technology

, Volume 89, Issue 1, pp 322–332 | Cite as

Transparent SiO2-GdF3 sol–gel nano-glass ceramics for optical applications

  • J. J. Velázquez
  • J. Mosa
  • G. Gorni
  • R. Balda
  • J. Fernández
  • L. Pascual
  • A. Durán
  • Y. CastroEmail author
Original Paper: Sol-gel and hybrid materials for optical, photonic and optoelectronic applications


Transparent oxyfluoride nano-glass-ceramics (GCs) containing GdF3 nanocrystals undoped and doped with 0.5 Eu3+ (mol%) were obtained by a novel sol–gel method after sintering at temperatures such low as 550 °C. X-ray diffraction (XRD) and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) show the precipitation of GdF3 nanocrystals with size between 7 and 10 nm, depending on the crystalline phase (hexagonal or orthorhombic) and the heating time. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) analysis allows following the system evolution during the heat treatment showing the decomposition of trifluoroacetic acid (TFA), used as fluorine precursor, together with the formation of fluoride lattice bonding. Energy dispersive X-ray (EDX) analysis confirms the incorporation of the RE ions in the fluoride nanocrystals in the GCs. The ions incorporation on the GdF3 crystals is also supported by optical characterisation. Photoluminescence measurements result in a well resolved structure together with a narrowing of the Eu3+ emission and excitation spectra in the GCs compared to the xerogel. Moreover, the asymmetry ratio between the electric dipole transition (5D07F2) to the magnetic dipole transition (5D07F1) is reduced in GCs, indicating that Eu3+ ions are incorporated in the GdF3 crystalline phases. Moreover, Gd3+→Eu3+ energy transfer with enhancement of the energy transfer efficiency was observed in the GCs, further supported by fluorescence decay curves.


  • Eu3+ doped SiO2-GdF3 GCs with 20 mol% of crystalline phase has been successfully obtained by sol–gel method.

  • The use of methyl triethoxysilane allows obtaining crack-free GCs samples and reduces the hydroxyl groups.

  • Energy transfer with enhancement of efficiency was observed from Gd3+ to Eu3+ in the nanocrystals.


Sol–gel GdF3 Oxyfluoride nano-glass-ceramic Luminescence Energy transfer 



This work was supported by MINECO under Projects N° MAT2013-48246-C2-1-P, MAT2013-48246-C2-2-P and Basque Country University PPG17/07 and GIU17/014. The authors thank the access to the Spanish Beamline (SpLine) at the ESRF facilities in Grenoble. J.J. Velázquez also acknowledges MINECO under Grant FPDI-2013-16895. This paper is also a part of dissemination activities of project FunGlass. This project has received funding from the European Union´s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 739566.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Grupo GlaSS, Instituto de Cerámica y Vidrio-CSICMadridSpain
  2. 2.FunGlass – Centre for Functional and Surface Functionalized GlassAlexander Dubček University of TrenčínTrenčínSlovakia
  3. 3.Applied Physic Department I, Superior school of EngineeringPais Vasco UniversityBilbaoSpain
  4. 4.Materials Physics Center CSIC-UPV/EHUSan SebastiánSpain
  5. 5.Instituto de Catálisis y Petroleoquímica-CSICMadridSpain

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