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Particle Size Distribution of ZrO2:Pr3+- Influences of pH, High Power Ultrasound, Surfactant and Dopant Quantity

Stephanie Moeller 1Janusz D. Fidelus 2Witold Łojkowski 2

1. Fachhochschule Münster, Stegerwaldstraße 39, Steinfurt 48565, Germany
2. Polish Academy of Sciences, Institute of High Pressure Physics (UNIPRESS), Sokolowska 29/37, Warszawa 01-142, Poland


Nanoparticles seize the scientific world and have long found their fields of application. However, synthesis and handling of these small particles remain a big challenge: They tend to agglomerate, not only in dispersions but also during the production process.

In this work, various factors governing agglomeration were examined. The influences of pH, surfactants and the application of high power ultrasound (HPUS) have been investigated for nanoscaled praseodymium doped zirconia. In order to devise efficient strategies for stabilising a dispersion of zirconia nanoparticles, the topological distribution of dopants within the particles is important to know.

Nanoscaled ZrO2:Pr3+ powders were obtained via a hydrothermal microwave driven process. [1] The Pr3+ content varied between 0.05 and 10 mol%. The particle size distribution as a function of pH and dopant quantity was measured to unravel the impact of the isoelectric point (IEP). Pure zirconia has an IEP at pH5, whereas pure Pr2O3 has its IEP at pH9. Due to missing electrostatic interactions, the agglomeration tendency is strong around the IEP of the sample. Measurements of the particle size distribution reveal a strong variation of the maximum average particle size depending on Pr3+ content and pH. At low Pr3+ doping levels, particle agglomeration occurs close to the IEP of zirconia, whereas at higher amounts of Pr3+, strong agglomeration appears at pH values close to the IEP of pure Pr2O3. Due to the significant changes, it is assumed that the Pr3+ ions are predominantly located in the particle surface region.

In order to obtain stable water-based dispersions of Pr3+ doped zirconia, it is thus important to set the pH according to the content of praseodymium. The addition of Sodium Dodecyl Sulphate (SDS) as a surfactant was examined and resulted in dispersions with a small tendency to form agglomerates. Another efficient way to obtain dispersions with small particles is the application of HPUS for a limited time. It was shown that the application of HPUS can improve the luminescence properties of ZrO2:Pr3+, especially for the samples with a small quantity of praseodymium. Both, excitation and emission are affected by the application of HPUS.

[1] Bondioli et al: Structure, morphology and luminescence properties of Pr-doped nanocrystalline ZrO2 obtained by hydrothermal method. Solid State Phenomena Vol. 94 (2003), pp 141-144


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Presentation: Poster at E-MRS Fall Meeting 2006, Symposium C, by Janusz D. Fidelus
See On-line Journal of E-MRS Fall Meeting 2006

Submitted: 2006-05-30 14:03
Revised:   2006-06-15 19:35