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Uniform Spheres of α-NaYF4:RE3+ (RE=Eu, Tb, Ce, Er, and Tm): Template-Free Synthesis, Multi-Color Photoluminescence, and Their Application in Cellular Imaging

by Xiaofeng Fan 1,2, Laiqin Gu 1,2, Yiling Hu 1,2 and Qi Zhu 1,2,*
1
Key Laboratory for Anisotropy and Texture of Materials (Ministry of Education), School of Materials Science and Engineering, Northeastern University, Shenyang, Liaoning 110819, China
2
Institute of Ceramics and Powder Metallurgy, School of Materials Science and Engineering, Northeastern University, Shenyang, Liaoning 110819, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Crystals 2020, 10(2), 119; https://doi.org/10.3390/cryst10020119
Received: 11 January 2020 / Revised: 3 February 2020 / Accepted: 11 February 2020 / Published: 14 February 2020
Uniformly dispersed luminescent probes with a high brightness and high resolution are desired in bio imaging fields. Here, ~100 nm sized and well-dispersed spheres of RE3+ doped α-NaYF4 (rare earth (RE) = Eu, Tb, Ce, Er, and Tm) have been facile synthesized through hydrothermal processing in the absence of a template, followed by a proper annealing. The processing window of the cubic structured spheres is wide, because the hydrothermal products are independent of the processing conditions, including reaction time and temperature. The original morphology and crystal structure can be well retained with a calcination temperature up to 600 °C. However, calcination gives rise to a reduction of particle sizes, as a result of the crystallite growth and densification. Under ultraviolet radiation, α-NaYF4:RE3+ spheres show characteristic f-f emissions of RE3+ (RE = Eu, Tb, Ce, Er, and Tm), and exhibit orange red, green, ultraviolet (UV), blue green, and blue emissions, respectively. Mainly because of the near-infrared emission at ~697 nm (5D07F4 transitions of Eu3+), the successful imaging of macrophages was achieved by NH2-NaYF4:Eu3+ probes, indicating their excellent imaging capacity for cells in vitro.
Keywords: α-NaYF4; well-dispersed spheres; luminescence; near infrared; cell imaging α-NaYF4; well-dispersed spheres; luminescence; near infrared; cell imaging
MDPI and ACS Style

Fan, X.; Gu, L.; Hu, Y.; Zhu, Q. Uniform Spheres of α-NaYF4:RE3+ (RE=Eu, Tb, Ce, Er, and Tm): Template-Free Synthesis, Multi-Color Photoluminescence, and Their Application in Cellular Imaging. Crystals 2020, 10, 119.

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