Rare earths in glass matrices are promising for active optical devices as amplifiers and lasers. Emission originating from d-f transitions in sol-gel glass has not been studied very often, while those based on f-f transitions were widely utilized. However, d-f emission in rare earths is very important because of their strong oscillator strength and broad emission widths suitable for the application to scintillators and solid-state lasers. Co-doping of aluminum in sol-gel synthesis was known to be effective for the emission enhancement of trivalent terbium and europium. Recently, we applied aluminum co-doping to cerium and europium systems in sol-gel glass to succeed in the observation of strong blue light emission originating from d-f transitions. Glass samples were prepared with conventional sol-gel process where tetramethylorthosilicate was hydrolyzed in the mixture of water, ethanol and dimethylformamide with nitric acid catalyst. After adding cerium nitrate and aluminum nitrate, the solution experienced drying followed by calcination at 1,050°C under air environment. When molar ratio of cerium to silicon was adjusted at 0.1% and Al concentration was varied in 0.1 ~ 2.0%, transparent glass products showed bright and broad blue photoluminescence under UV illumination. The fluorescence lifetimes were found to be about 50 ~ 90 ns, indicating that the emission was due to d-f transitions. Considering the simplicity of the process, blue phosphors based on sol-gel glass will be very promising for future applications.
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