Synthesis and functionalization of biocompatible Tb:CePO4 nanophosphors with spindle-like shape
Monoclinic Tb:CePO4 nanophosphors with a spindle-like morphology and tailored size (in the nanometer and micrometer range) have been prepared through a very simple procedure, which consists of aging, at low temperature (120 °C), ethylene glycol solutions containing only cerium and terbium acetylacetonates and phosphoric acid, not requiring the addition of surfactants or capping agents. The influence of the heating mode (conventional convection oven or microwave oven) and the Tb doping level on the luminescent, structural and morphological features of the precipitated nanoparticles have also been analyzed. This study showed that microwave-assisted heating resulted in an important beneficial effect on the luminescent properties of these nanophosphors. Finally, a procedure for the functionalization of the Tb:CePO4 nanoparticles with aspartic-dextran is also reported. The functionalized nanospindles presented negligible toxicity for Verocells, which along with theirs excellent luminescent properties, make them suitable for biomedical applications.