Highly luminescent hybrid materials based on smectites with polyethylene glycol modified with rhodamine fluorophore
Abstract Highly luminescent anisotropic materials are promising for light harvesting systems, sensors, solid lasers and optical devices. To achieve this, polyethylene glycol (PEG) was derivatized with a reactive rhodamine B (RhB) fluorophore to produce a luminescent, water-soluble and positively-charged polymer (RhPEG) that can be intercalated between layers of smectites. An optimal degree of polymer derivatization was applied to avoid fluorescence quenching. The optical properties of RhPEG were similar to those of the RhB precursor. Colloids were prepared using RhPEG and the montmorillonite Kunipia (Mt) and the synthetic saponite Sumecton (Sap), with polymer/smectite mass ratios of 0.05–0.25, and were cast into thin solid films by a vacuum filtration deposition technique. The luminescent hybrid films exhibited a similar structure to those obtained by the intercalation of non-modified PEG. Optical properties depended considerably on the smectite type. The hybrid films made of Sap, the smectite with low charge density, negligibly induced the molecular aggregation of RhPEG and had high fluorescence quantum yields, similar to dilute solutions of RhB or RhPEG. On the other hand, the results of spectroscopic methods indicated molecular aggregation of RhPEG when intercalated between Mt layers leading to considerable fluorescence quenching, making this material unsuitable for the fabrication of photoactive optical films. Highlights Luminescent polymer (RhPEG) prepared from rhodamine and poly(ethylene glycol). Activated rhodamine moieties were anchored at the end-groups of polymer chains. Colloids and films of RhPEG with saponite and montmorillonite were characterized. Highly luminescent hybrid films were obtained, mainly from saponite. Polymer modification can significantly expand the functionality of nanocomposites. Graphical abstract [DISPLAY OMISSION]
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