A procedure for the synthesis of multifunctional europium(III)-doped gadolinium(III) fluoride (Eu:GdF3) nanoparticles (~85 nm) with quasispherical shape by precipitation at 120 °C from diethylene glycol solutions containing lanthanide chlorides and an ionic liquid (1-Butyl, 2-methylimidazolium tetrafluoroborate) as fluoride source has been developed. These nanoparticles were polycrystalline and crystallized into a hexagonal structure, which is unusual for GdF3. They were also mesoporous (pore size = 3.5 Å), having a rather high BET surface area (75 m(2) g(-1)). The luminescent and magnetic (relaxivity) properties of the Eu:GdF3 nanoparticles have been also evaluated in order to assess their potentiality as "in vitro" optical biolabels and contrast agent for magnetic resonance imaging. Finally, a procedure for their functionalization with aspartic-dextran polymers is also reported. The functionalized Eu:GdF3 nanoparticles presented negligible toxicity for Vero cells, which make them suitable for biotecnological applications.
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