Light-emitting Ga-oxide nanocrystals in glass: a new paradigm for low-cost and robust UV-to-visible solar-blind converters and UV emitters†
Wide-bandgap nanocrystals are an inexhaustible source of tuneable functions potentially addressing most of the demand for new light emitting systems. However, the implementation of nanocrystal properties in real devices is not straightforward if a robust and stable optical component is required as a final result. The achievement of efficient light emission from dense dispersions of Ga-oxide nanocrystals in UV-grade glass can be a breakthrough in this regard. Such a result would permit the fabrication of low cost UV-to-visible converters for monitoring UV-emitting events on a large-scale – from invisible hydrogen flames to corona dispersions. From this perspective, γ-Ga2O3 nanocrystals are developed by phase separation in Ga-alkali-germanosilicate glasses, obtaining optical materials based on a UV transparent matrix. Band-to-band UV-excitation of light emission from donor–acceptor pair (DAP) recombination is investigated for the first time in embedded γ-Ga2O3. The analysis of the decay kinetics gives unprecedented evidence that nanosized confinement of DAP recombination can force a nanophase to the efficient response of exactly balanced DAPs. The results, including a proof of concept of UV-to-visible viewer, definitely demonstrate the feasibility of workable glass-based fully inorganic nanostructured materials with emission properties borrowed from Ga2O3 single-crystals and tailored by the nanocrystal size.