Increasing energy cost calls for exterior coatings with high near infra-red reflectance, so as to reduce heat absorption and in turn cost of air-conditioning. While modulations of substrate, use of white metal oxides as pigments or under-layers has been reported in past, reports on metal oxide or doped metal oxide pigments with high NIR reflectance is scarce. We report for the first time a blue colored cobalt aluminate type pigment prepared through doping of cerium, praseodymium or neodymium. CIELAB color measurements and calculation of ΔE indicated that the Nd doped sample had crystal size of (36±1) nm, bandgap value of (2.4±0.2) eV and color coordinates similar to that of cobalt aluminate. The molar ratio as estimated by EDX was found to be Al : Cu : Co : Ce : Nd : O= 2 : 0.06 : 0.06 : 0.012 : 0.000 12 : 6.18. The pigment was found to have potential applications as a cool blue colorant, owing to changes in optical properties arising out of crystal chemistry changes. Incorporation of rare earth metal ions was found to enhance the NIR reflectance by 10%, when compared to a conventional cobalt aluminate pigment. The oxide has been well characterized and its performance as a pigment evaluated. We have proposed that changes in crystal lattice when neodymium enters into Ce4+ sites enhance the NIR reflectance by about 9% as against the entry of praseodymium.
One of the authors (SPR) thanks the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India for the funding received under the WOS-A program. Financial assistance of the CSIR New Delhi under the XII Plan project is also acknowledged. Authors also thank Dr. MLP Reddy and his team at NIIST, Thiruvananthapuram for their support in the characterization. The support of Dr. UV Varadaraju, IIT Madras, Chennai for useful discussions on the topic is acknowledged.