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A Long Journey in Lanthanide Chemistry: From Fundamental Crystallogenesis Studies to Commercial Anticounterfeiting Taggants

Abstract : Lanthanide ions have unique physical properties and are essential for numerous technological devices. Indeed, much research has been undertaken in order to understand and optimize their luminescent behavior. From a chemical and more specific point of view, lanthanides can be used to build coordination polymers (CPs). CPs are materials in which metal ions are associated with organic molecules (ligands) to form extended networks. They present great structural diversity and a wide range of unique properties such as great porosity, strong catalytic activities, and original magnetic and luminescent behaviors. In this Account, we highlight recent research advances obtained by our team in the field of lanthanide-based CPs. However, rather than present a simple chronological description of successive investigations, we have chosen present our own experience in order to show how standard academic studies can be successfully turned into applied research and finally into a viable startup that commercializes these products as anticounterfieting taggants. A taggant is a compound that can be dispersed in a host matrix at parts per million rates for it to be labeled. Its economic advantages over traditional anticounterfeiting techniques (labels, chips, etc.) are its very low cost and its ability to label a raw material at every stage of its processing, unlike traditional techniques that label only the final product. It thus permits traceability of a given material over a wide range of suppliers/subcontractors/sellers or customers at every step of its life. After 15 years of fundamental crystallogenesis research, we identified a very stable phase of lanthanide-based CPs in which strong lanthanide luminescence can be observed. We investigated this phase further and showed that a heteronuclear approach can give access to billions of different compositions and makes it possible to turn these powders into taggants. After the creation of a startup, we refocused on fundamental studies in order to ensure its future development. This permitted the design of future generations of taggants and provided brightness- or color-tunable compounds as well as temperature-sensitive and soluble taggants. We hope to demonstrate here that strong fundamental research is a very effective tool to create a technological breakthrough that allows the development of efficient applicative research and competitive products and finally contributes to economic growth
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Submitted on : Tuesday, April 26, 2016 - 5:17:53 PM
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Olivier Guillou, Carole Daiguebonne, Guillaume Calvez, Kevin Bernot. A Long Journey in Lanthanide Chemistry: From Fundamental Crystallogenesis Studies to Commercial Anticounterfeiting Taggants. Accounts of Chemical Research, American Chemical Society, 2016, 49 (5), pp.844-856. ⟨10.1021/acs.accounts.6b00058⟩. ⟨hal-01307766⟩



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