Improving Quantum Yield of Upconverting Nanoparticles in Aqueous Media via Emission Sensitization.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1021/acs.nanolett.8b00634
We demonstrate a facile method to improve upconversion quantum yields in Yb,Er-based nanoparticles via emission dye-sensitization. Using the commercially available dye ATTO 542, chosen for its high radiative rate and significant spectral overlap with the green emission of Er3+, we decorate the surfaces of sub-25 nm hexagonal-phase Na(Y/Gd/Lu)0.8F4:Yb0.18Er0.02 upconverting nanoparticles with varying dye concentrations. Upconversion photoluminescence and absorption spectroscopy provide experimental confirmation of energy transfer to and emission from the dye molecules. Upconversion quantum yield is observed to increase with dye sensitization, with the highest enhancement measured for the smallest particles investigated (10.9 nm in diameter); specifically, these dye-decorated particles are more than 2× brighter than are unmodified, organic-soluble nanoparticles and more than 10× brighter than are water-soluble nanoparticles. We also observe 3× lifetime reductions with dye adsorption, confirming the quantum yield enhancement to result from the high radiative rate of the dye. The approach detailed in this work is widely implementable, renders the nanoparticles water-soluble, and most significantly improves sub-15 nm nanoparticles, making our method especially attractive for biological imaging applications.