Nano Research

Article Title

One-pot synthesis and strong near-infrared upconversion luminescence of poly(acrylic acid)-functionalized YF3:Yb3+/Er3+ nanocrystals


YF3 nanocrystals, NIR upconverting luminescence, poly(acrylic acid)


This paper describes the synthesis of new upconverting luminescent nanoparticles that consist of YF3:Yb3+/Er3+ functionalized with poly(acrylic acid) (PAA). Unlike the upconverting nanocrystals previously reported in the literature that emit visible (blue–green–red) upconversion fluorescence, these as-prepared nanoparticles emit strong near-infrared (NIR, 831 nm) upconversion luminescence under 980 nm excitation. Scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, and powder X-ray diffraction were used to characterize the size and composition of the luminescent nanocrystals. Their average diameter was about 50 nm. The presence of the PAA coating was confirmed by infrared spectroscopy. The particles are highly dispersible in aqueous solution due to the presence of carboxylate groups in the PAA coating. By carrying out the synthesis in the absence of PAA, YF3:Yb3+/Er3+ nanorice materials were obtained. These nanorice particles are larger (~700 nm in length) than the PAA-functionalized nanoparticles and show strong typical visible red (668 nm), rather than NIR (831 nm), upconversion fluorescence. The new PAA-coated luminescent nanoparticles have the pottential be used in a variety of bioanalytical and medical assays involving luminescence detection and fluorescence imaging, especially in vivo fluorescence imaging, due to the deep penetration of NIR radiation.

Graphical Abstract


Tsinghua University Press