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In a recent study, researchers from Saudi Arabia used electrospun glass nanofibers to enhance polycarbonate to create new high-performance materials.
Developing fluorescent and photoluminescent materials requires the coupling of nanotechnology applications and material science. In a recent study conducted by researchers at several Saudi Arabian institutions, a research team describes how electrospun glass nanofibers (GNFs) enhanced polycarbonate (PC) to help create these materials (1). The findings of this study were published in the journal Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy (1).
The key to developing these materials lies in the physical integration of lanthanide-activated aluminate (LA) nanoparticles (NPs) into transparent GNFs@PC smart sheets. Spectral investigations, utilizing photoluminescence and CIE Lab parameters, demonstrated the transformative potential of these materials (1). When exposed to UV light, the translucent GNFs@PC smart sheets undergo a rapid metamorphosis, changing their appearance to a vivid green, showcasing fluorescence activity. This transformation is both swift and reversible when the LANPs concentration is low, indicating fluorescence emission (1). However, higher concentrations of phosphors in GNFs@PC lead to longer-lasting afterglow photoluminescence and slower reversibility, expanding their versatility (1).
Under excitation at 368 nm, the GNFs@PC hybrids emit a distinct band at 518 nm, highlighting their unique luminescent properties (1). Using transmission electron microscopy (TEM), the GNFs and LANPs revealed particle sizes ranging from 11 to 26 nm and fiber diameters of 250 to 300 nm, respectively (1). The GNFs were produced through electrospinning technology. The GNFs were then incorporated into PC sheets. The benefit of doing this was to enhance their scratch resistance significantly compared to LANPs-free PC samples (1). The researchers found in this study that increasing the LANP concentration enhanced both hydrophobicity and UV protection.
The LANPs were loaded into the GNFs@PC hybrid host material to create UV-responsive smart materials (1). Electrospinning played a pivotal role in crafting the GNFs, which, in turn, reinforced the PC bulk (1). The resultant fluorescent and afterglow emission characteristics of the GNFs@PC substrates make them suitable for various applications, including smart windows and smart concrete. As a result, this technique allowed for the creation of hybrid nanocomposites featuring LANPs, GNFs, and PC that exhibit fluorescence under UV light and transparency under visible light (1).
The transparent appearance, UV protection, photostability, and hydrophobicity of the photoluminescent GNFs@PC substrates have all been achieved through this straightforward procedure. Morphological features were further analyzed using energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDXA), X-ray fluorescence (XRF), and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), confirming the exceptional quality of the resulting materials (1).
The researchers also observed the contact angle of the light-emitting GNFs@PC hybrid nanocomposites. The contact angle of the light-emitting GNFs@PC hybrid nanocomposites increased from 148.6° to 158.7° as the LANPs ratio rose from 0.5% to 8% (1). The optimal ratio of LANPs at 1% yielded colorless GNFs@PC with maximum green emission under UV light. Furthermore, a LANPs-to-GNFs@PC ratio of 6% resulted in the brightest green phosphorescent emission, providing a vivid greenish-yellow glow even in the dark (1).
(1) Alrefaee, S. H.; Alnoman, R. B.; Alenazi, N. A.; Alharbi, H.; Alkhamis, K.; Alsharief, H. H.; El-Metwaly, N. M. Electrospun glass nanofibers to strengthen polycarbonate plastic glass toward photoluminescent smart materials. Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Mol. Biomol. Spectrosc. 2023, 302, 122986. DOI: 10.1016/j.saa.2023.122986
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