We report an experimental study demonstrating the feasibility to produce both pure and Ge-doped silica nanoparticles (size ranging from tens up to hundreds of nanometers) using nanosecond pulsed KrF laser ablation of bulk glass. In particular, pure silica nanoparticles were produced using a laser pulse energy of 400 mJ on pure silica, whereas Ge-doped nanoparticles were obtained using 33 and 165 mJ per pulse on germanosilicate glass. The difference in the required energy is attributed to the Ge doping, which modifies the optical properties of the silica by facilitating energy absorption processes such as multiphoton absorption or by introducing absorbing point defects. Defect generation in bulk pure silica before nanoparticle production starts is also suggested by our results. Regarding the Ge-doped samples, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and cathodoluminescence (CL) investigations revealed a good correspondence between the morphology of the generated particles and their emission signal due to the germanium lone pair center (GLPC), regardless of the energy per pulse used for their production. This suggests a reasonable homogeneity of the emission features of the samples. Similarly, energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) data showed that the O, Ge and Si signals qualitatively correspond to the particle morphology, suggesting a generally uniform chemical composition of the Ge-doped samples. No significant CL signal could be detected in pure silica nanoparticles, evidencing the positive impact of Ge for the development of intrinsically emitting nanoparticles. Transmission electron microscope (TEM) data suggested that the Ge-doped silica nanoparticles are amorphous. SEM and TEM data evidenced that the produced nanoparticles tend to be slightly more spherical in shape for a higher energy per pulse. Scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM) data have shown that, regardless of size and applied energy per pulse, in each nanoparticle, some inhomogeneity is present in the form of brighter (i.e., more dense) features of a few nanometers.
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering