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Nanoscale. 2017 Jul 6;9(26):9238-9245. doi: 10.1039/c7nr01745f.

Spectral and spatial characterization of upconversion luminescent nanocrystals as nanowaveguides.

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School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, 50 Nanyang Avenue, Singapore 639798, Singapore.


Lanthanide upconversion (UC) luminescent nanocrystals exhibit a uniquely sharp multiband emission over a broad spectral bandwidth covering the ultraviolet region to the near-infrared (NIR) region when subjected to NIR excitation, which is vital for multichannel optical communication using wavelength-division multiplexing to achieve high transmission rates. In this study, we experimentally and theoretically investigated the spectral and spatial characterization of a single NaYF4:Yb3+,Tm3+(Yb3+,Er3+) UC nanocrystal as a nanowaveguide. We suggest that a UC nanocrystal can be used as a nanowaveguide because it produces a range of output colors simultaneously and provides unaltered emission bands during propagation. Via the observation of single NaYF4:Yb3+,Tm3+(Yb3+,Er3+) UC nanocrystals, we found, for the first time, that a single UC nanocrystal exhibited wavelength- and position-dependent UC emissions. In addition, by adding Ag coating to the UC nanocrystal to act as a plasmonic waveguide and introducing a photonic crystal, the scattering loss of the UC emissions was significantly suppressed in the middle of the NaYF4 nanocrystal, indicating efficient light guiding through the UC nanocrystal. Our discovery provides a basic understanding of the use of UC nanocrystals as nanowaveguides at the single-nanoparticle level, expanding our knowledge of the performance optimization of UC nanomaterials.


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