Nanotechnology has become a key domain of technology in XXI century. The great development of the synthetic approaches toward nanoparticles (NPs) with desired composition, size and shape expose the potential of their use as building blocks for larger scale structures. It allows fabrication of functional materials and devices directly from colloids by bottom-up approach, thus involving possibility of material design over several length scales.
The process is referred to NPs assembly or self-assembly and leads to materials with varying architectures as for instance 1D (rods), 2D (films) or 3D (superlattices or gels). However most of 3D assemblies are limited to the micrometric scale and are difficult to control. Practically the only route allowing preparation of macroscopic 3D structures from NPs is their gelation and preparation of aerogels. As an alternative, NPs can be embedded in some matrix creating bulk composite material, with homogenously distributed non-aggregated NPs.
Therefore, this work is devoted to development of materials with different dimensionalities for various applications from metal oxides NPs (mainly Y3Al5O12:Ce and Li4Ti5O12). The first part describes the syntheses of YAG:Ce and LTO NPs by glycothermal approach. In the case of YAG:Ce, the reactions conditions were appropriately adjusted in order to obtain non-aggregated nanocrystals (NCs) of few nanometers. The colloidal solution containing such NCs with different concentration was used for fabrication of thin films with controllable thickness by spin-coating method. Contrary, the synthesis of LTO led to aggregated NPs with hierarchical structuration which was highly beneficial for Li-ion batteries. The large surface area and porosity ensured efficient exchange of Li ions between electrolyte and anode material.
Furthermore, the YAG:Ce NCs were used for preparation of macroscopic monoliths with high porosity and transparency. For that reason, colloidal solution of NCs was gelled by the abrupt change of solvent dielectric constant. The gels were further supercritically dried yielding YAG:Ce NPs-based aerogels with high porosity and transparency. The same approach turned o be appropriate for other systems like GdF3 or hybrid aerogels of YAG:Ce and GdF3.
Alternatively, YAG:Ce NPs were incorporated into silica aerogels forming robust macroscopic and highly transparent aerogels exhibiting properties of incorporated NPs. They served for novel type of sensors for low-energy ionizing radiation in liquids and gases. Their high porosity assured well-developed contact between radioactive emitter and the scintillator ensuring good harvesting of radioactive energy.