Surfactant-Free, Fluorescent Gel with Increased Light Emittance

Technology #33296

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Room lighting image (left) showing surfactant free Sol-Glow™ particles on the left and microemulsion synthesized Sol-Glow™ particles on the right. UV-excitation image (right) showing the fluorescence of surfactant free Sol-Glow™ particles on the left and microemulsion synthesized Sol-Glow™ particles on the right
Jeremy Tharkur
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Swadeshmukul Santra, Ph.D.
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Andrea Adkins
Assistant Director 407.823.0138
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US Patent Pending

Fluorescent quantum dots (Qdots) including dopant-based Qdots, are traditionally synthesized via a wet chemical method, where a mixture of a surfactant and a capping agent is used. UCF researchers have created a surfactant-free, water-based, chemical precipitation method to create high-quality, dopant-based, water-dispersible Sol-Glow™ particles. This method overcomes current limitations of synthesis and purification processes that are extremely cumbersome, time-consuming, expensive, and generate undesirable waste materials. This one-pot, chemical synthesis method is simple, rapid, and suitable for producing Sol-Glow particles in bulk quantity on a metric ton scale. By eliminating the need for HCl to achieve fluorescence, Sol-Glow is also environmentally friendly.

For agriculture industry applications, Sol-Glow can serve as a plant nutrient fertilizer as well as an antimicrobial agent to protect crops from bacterial and other microbial infections. This method can be used in various inorganic light-sensitive semiconductor materials and subsequently coated with various fluorescent dye materials, using chemical reaction methodology. Being surfactant-free, Sol-Glow particles provide greater light-emitting intensity, eliminating quenching and absorption caused by surfactant residue. Additionally, Sol-Glow particles have increased sensitivity to light.

Technical Details

This novel method involves mixing in an aqueous solution a water-soluble, first core metal precursor material (e.g. cadmium acetate, zinc acetate, manganese acetate, or a similar material) with a water-soluble, first dopant precursor material (e.g. sodium sulfide) to form a doped metal core material. This mixture creates a surfactant-free, core-shell, light-emitting particle. Additionally, adjusting the pH of the final composition from 3 to 6 can provide higher efficiency in Sol-Glow particle production. The water dispersibility of Sol-Glow was accomplished through surface modifications with hydrophilic coating agents, including sodium gluconate, sodium salicylate, quaternary ammonium, hydrogen peroxide, and tetraethyl orthosilicate (silica), for multifunctional applications.


  • Environmentally friendly
  • Faster synthesis times
  • Increased cost efficiency
  • Large-scale production capability
  • Greater light-emitting intensity
  • Increased particle sensitivity to light


  • Agriculture
    • Fertilizer
  • Pesticide
  • Biomedical
    • Taggant
  • Electronics/Opto-electronics
    • Solar cells
    • Lasers and Electro-Optics (LEOs)