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Chem Mater. 2011 Jun 14;23(11):2987-2993.

Plasmonic enhanced emissions from cubic NaYF(4):Yb: Er/Tm nanophosphors.

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1
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, University of California, Davis, 95616, USA.

Abstract

A metal shell was used in this study to provide significant enhancement of the up-converted emission from cubic NaYF(4) nanoparticles, creating a valuable composite material for labeling in biology and other applications - use of the cubic form of the material obviates the need to undertake a high temperature transformation to the naturally more efficient hexagonal phase. The NaYF(4) matrix contained ytterbium sensitizer and an Erbium (Er) or Thulium (Tm) activator. The particle sizes of the as-synthesized nanoparticles were in the range of 20-40 nm with a gold shell thickness of 4-8 nm. The gold shell was macroscopically amorphous. The synthesis method was based on a citrate chelation. In this approach, we exploited the ability of the citrate ion to act as a reductant and stabilizer. Confining the citrate ion reductant on the nanophosphor surface rather than in the solution was critical to the gold shell formation. The plasmonic shell enhanced the up-conversion emission of Tm from visible and near-infrared regions by up to a factor of 8, in addition to imparting a visible color arising from the plasmon absorption of the gold shell. The up-conversion enhancement observed with Tm and Er were different for similar gold coverages, with local crystal field changes as a possible route to enhance up-conversion emission from high symmetry structural hosts. These novel up-converting nanophosphor particles combine the phosphor and features of a gold shell, providing a unique platform for many biological imaging and labeling applications.

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