Rare-earth Doped Nanocomposite Materials for Photonics Applications


Invention Summary:

An esteemed Rutgers University Professor of Materials Science has developed an optically transparent composite material comprised of highly Rareearth- doped solid solution inorganic nanoparticles. These nanocomposite particles can be dispersed in a matrix of polymers, glass, liquid, or crystalline material. The nanoparticles are constructed of low phonon energy metal halides such as CaF2 or LaCL3, or oxyhalides, doped with Rare-earth active ions up to 60 mol percent, a particle loading level unseen in prior technologies. The dispersed nanoparticles in a matrix range between 1 and 100 nanometers in size. This incorporates the discovery that particle sizes below 100 nm are small enough that even a large refractive index difference between the matrix and the particles would not scatter the light in other than the intended direction. The technology allows for an efficient and broadband emission spectra advantageous for many luminescent devices. The nanocomposites can be tuned to down-convert the excitation energy such as 980nm to the 1550 nm range, or up-convert the 980 nm for emissions in the visible region. These Rare-earth based nanocomposites offer a wide range of opportunities for development in useful products using various matrices.

Market Applications:

  • Optical WDM Amplifiers: Amplification of optical Wavelength Division Multiplexing signals by down conversion of 980nm pump to 1550nm signals. Due to the nano sized particles, optical signals in the fiber will not have scattering effects, an important property of glass fiber waveguides.
  • Authentication Taggants: The nanocomposite particles are invisible to the naked eye, can be embedded into many substrates and materials, and tuned to emit infrared or visible light upon excitation. Use for anti-counterfeiting or authentication as the particles can be tuned to create unique emission signatures.
  • Scintillators/Medical Imaging: Scintillators are used in a wide variety of applications from medical imaging (IR, PET, CT), industrial inspections, and security. Superior scintillators exhibit high quantum efficiency, linearity of spectral emission, high density, fast decay time, minimal self absorption, and a high effective Z number. However, high quality scintillators are very costly.


  • Unique emission wavelengths not previously observed in conventional Rare-earth doped oxide hosts
  • High quantum efficiency means bright emissions
  • Multi wavelength emission form a single material
  • Solvothermal process low energy cost over conventional synthesis methods
  • Unstable bulk material can be rendered stable in composite form
  • Materials for nanocomposites can always be utilized for making single phase nanomaterials

Intellectual Property & Development Status:

The Rutgers nanocomposites are protected by three issued patents, US6,699,406, US7,094,361, and US7,771,619. The technology can be easily implemented into the chosen application due to its simple lost cost synthesis process.

Rutgers ID: 1997-0109
Physical Sciences
Zolt Pukanecz
Richard Riman
John Ballato