Fluorescent nanopigments: Quantitative assessment of their quantum yield
In the last few years, an intense research effort has focused on the synthesis of fluorescent nanopigments for functional inks, light harvesting, tagging, tracing, (bio)labeling, imaging, and lighting applications. Moreover, combined with dielectric matrices, these fluorescent nanoparticles may open the way to the realization of novel optophotonic devices. In particular, due to the large variety of available organic fluorescent dyes, their encapsulation into either an inorganic or an organic host is a very promising approach to synthesize a large palette of new fluorescent nanopigments. However, since the dye encapsulation may affect the fluorescence efficiency, measuring the quantum yield of fluorescent nanopigments is of paramount importance for the development of any connected application. In this article, we present a diffuse reflectance (DR) technique that enables the quantitative assessment of the quantum yield of fluorescent nanoparticles such as zeolite L nanocrystals and poly(methyl methacrylate) nanospheres both loaded with fluorescent perylene molecules. Our method is validated by measuring a well known fluorescence standard and by comparing the results obtained for a model zeolite nanopigment with those provided by an alternative DR technique. Reliable and reproducible quantum yield values are obtained for both low- and high-efficiency fluorescent nanoparticles. Our technique can thus enable systematic and quantitative studies that may yield an important insight in the mechanisms affecting the fluorescence efficiency of a large variety of nanopigments.