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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle

Controlled Synthesis of Monodisperse Hexagonal NaYF4:Yb/Er Nanocrystals with Ultrasmall Size and Enhanced Upconversion Luminescence

MIIT Key Laboratory of Critical Materials Technology for New Energy Conversion and Storage, School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering & Key Laboratory of Micro-Systems and Micro-Structures, Ministry of Education, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin 150001, China
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Molecules 2017, 22(12), 2113; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules22122113
Received: 3 November 2017 / Revised: 24 November 2017 / Accepted: 29 November 2017 / Published: 1 December 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Lanthanide Luminescence: Fundamental Research and Applications)
The ability to synthesize upconversion nanocrystals (UCNCs) with tailored upconversion luminescence and controlled size is of great importance for biophotonic applications. However, until now, limited success has been met to prepare bright, ultrasmall, and monodispersed β-NaYF4:Yb3+/Er3+ UCNCs. In this work, we report on a synthetic method to produce monodisperse hexagonal NaYF4:Yb3+/Er3+ nanocrystals of ultrasmall size (5.4 nm) through a precise control of the reaction temperature and the ratio of Na+/Ln3+/F. We determined the optimum activator concentration of Er3+ to be 6.5 mol % for these UCNCs, yielding about a 5-fold higher upconversion luminescence (UCL) intensity than the commonly used formula of NaYF4:30% Yb3+/2% Er3+. Moreover, a thin epitaxial shell (thickness, 1.9 nm) of NaLnF4 (Ln = Y, Gd, Lu) was grown onto these ultrasmall NaYF4:Yb3+/Er3+ NCs, enhancing its UCL by about 85-, 70- and 50-fold, respectively. The achieved sub-10-nm core and core–shell hexagonal NaYF4:Yb3+/Er3+ UCNCs with enhanced UCL have strong potential applications in bioapplications such as bioimaging and biosensing. View Full-Text
Keywords: ultrasmall size; optimum concentration; upconversion luminescence; core–shell structure ultrasmall size; optimum concentration; upconversion luminescence; core–shell structure
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Li, H.; Xu, L.; Chen, G. Controlled Synthesis of Monodisperse Hexagonal NaYF4:Yb/Er Nanocrystals with Ultrasmall Size and Enhanced Upconversion Luminescence. Molecules 2017, 22, 2113.

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