The NCLas project will introduce and develop a disruptive technology for the synthesis of glasses containing functional nanocrystals (NCs). It is based on a novel hybrid nanosintering process, which allows for the incorporation of a large variety of NCs and functionalization of glasses in different formats for various applications. Previous attempts to either grow NCs inside glass by a glass heat treatment or incorporate NCs during glass formation showed unconvincing results. In our nanosintering process, key enabling steps include reducing the sintering temperature, developing specialized NC core-shell structures and adjusting the glass composition, thus achieving a chemically inert environment and matching the refractive index of NCs and glass. This technology will be exploited to produce low-loss, NC-functionalized glass fibres. Fibre lasers are energy efficient and compact and offer maintenance-free operation, ultra-short pulses, high power, and low noise. Today’s commercial fibre lasers are fabricated from robust, durable silica glass. The operation of oxide fibre lasers can be extended to an enormous spectral range (~400–3000 nm) by doping oxide glasses with laser-active nanocrystals optimized for particular laser wavelengths, thus enabling a huge variety of new applications. We will demonstrate two highly relevant fibre lasers: (i) a Ti3+:sapphire-NC fibre laser tuneable around 800 nm for bio-photonic applications; (ii) a Pr3+:yttria-NC 1300-nm fibre laser enabling a much-awaited wavelength extension in telecommunications and also fitting into one of the biophotonic windows. The high risk of NCLas is mitigated by an interdisciplinary team with demonstrated experience in their fields and highly complementary backgrounds. We will address the project challenges in all its steps, from material synthesis to device demonstration. NCLas makes a significant contribution to Key Enabling Technologies such as Nanotechnology, Photonics and Advanced Materials.
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Funding SchemeRIA - Research and Innovation action