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Super Bright Red Upconversion in NaErF4:0.5%Tm@NaYF4:20%Yb Nanoparticles for Anti-counterfeit and Bioimaging Applications

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journal contribution
posted on 21.12.2020, 22:03 by Rashmi Joshi, Ramaswamy Sandeep Perala, Sandeep Balu Shelar, Anand Ballal, Bheeshma Pratap Singh, Raghumani Singh Ningthoujam
Nanocrystals having single-band red emission under near-infrared (NIR) excitation through the upconversion process offer great advantages in terms of enhanced cellular imaging in in vitro and in vivo experiments in the biological window (600–900 nm), as a security ink, in photothermal therapy (PTT), in photodynamic therapy (PDT), and so forth but are challenging for materials scientists. In this work, we report for the first time the preparation of a super bright red emitter at 655 nm from monodispersed NaErF4:0.5%Tm@NaYF4:20%Yb nanocrystals (core@active shell). This phosphor exhibits 35 times stronger photoluminescence as compared to NaErF4:0.5%Tm@NaYF4 (core@inactive shell). Here, an Er3+-enriched host matrix works simultaneously as an activator and a sensitizer under NIR excitation. Upconversion red emission at 655 nm arises due to the electronic transition of Er3+ via the involvement of a three-photon absorption (expected to be a two-photon absorption), which has been confirmed via a power-dependent luminescence study. Tm3+ ions incorporated into the core with the active shell act as trapping centers, which promote the red band emission via the back-energy transfer process. Moreover, the active shell containing Yb3+ ions efficiently transfers the energy to the Er3+-enriched core, which suppresses the nonradiative channel rate, and Tm3+ ions act as trapping centers, which reduce the luminescence quenching via reduction of energy migration to the surface of the host lattice. Also, we have shown the potential applications of these nanocrystals: cellular imaging through downconversion and upconversion processes and security ink.