Lanthanide upconversion within microstructured optical fibers: Improved detection limits for sensing and the demonstration of a new tool for nanocrystal characterization

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Journal Article
Nanoscale, 2012, 4 (23), pp. 7448 - 7451
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We investigate a powerful new sensing platform based on the excitation of upconversion luminescence from NaYF4:Yb/Er nanocrystals loaded in solution within a suspended-core microstructured optical fiber. We demonstrate a substantial improvement in the detection limit that can be achieved in a suspended-core fiber sensor for solution-based measurements using these nanocrystals as an alternative to more traditional fluorophores, with sensing of concentrations as low as 660 fM demonstrated compared with the 10 pM obtained using quantum dots. This nanocrystal loaded suspended core fiber platform also forms the basis for a novel and robust nanoscale spectrometry device capable of capturing power-dependent spectra over a large dynamic range from 103 W cm-2 to 106 W cm-2 using a laser diode. This serves as a useful tool to study the multiple energy levels of rare earth luminescent nano-materials, allowing the two sharp emission bands to be studied in detail over a large dynamic range of excitation powers. Thus, in addition to demonstrating a highly sensitive dip sensor, we have devised a powerful new approach for characterizing upconversion nanoparticles. © 2012 The Royal Society of Chemistry.
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