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High efficiency up- and down-converting infrared nanoparticles


TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Materials/Processes

OBJECTIVE:  The synthesis and characterization of non-toxic, environmentally stable and optically efficient nanoparticles that absorb and emit in the infrared and lack any visible light emissions.

DESCRIPTION:  There is an Air Force need to develop optical materials that operate in the infrared spectrum. The ideal material would be an environmentally stable, non-toxic and optically efficient nanoparticle that absorbs infrared light and either upconverts or downconverts the energy to a different infrared wavelength. Emissions from the nanoparticles should be detectable using commercial infrared imaging devices, such as night vision goggles, short wave infrared (SWIR) cameras or forward looking infrared (FLIR) cameras. It is anticipated that these nanoparticles will be used outside, thereby requiring any absorption and emission wavelengths be outside any atmospheric absorbance bands. Additionally, this material should not have any emissions in the 400-700nm wavelengths, be synthesized economically and practically on large scales, do not photobleach, and can either fluoresce or phosphoresce.

PHASE I:  Gram quantities of monodisperse nanoparticles with Stoke shifts of at least 100nm that are optically active in the infrared will be synthesized and characterized using traditional laboratory equipment as well as infrared imaging devices. Materials will be excited with 830nm or 1064nm light sources and either up- or down-convert in the infrared.

PHASE II:  Research of new infrared nanoparticles would continue, though with an emphasis on production scalability, emission strength, and environmental stability. Additionally, the effects of the materials on the environment and animal toxicology will be examined. As an optimum formulation is identified, a > 500g sample will be required as a final deliverable.


Military Application:  Military applications include tagging and tracking of assets, identifying friend or foe, and for use in identifying disturbed soil in perimeter security.

Commercial Application: Commercial applications include fluorescence optical imaging for biomedical applications.

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