Activation of the surface dark-layer to enhance upconversion in a thermal field

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Nature Photonics, 2018, 12 (3), pp. 154 - 158
Issue Date:
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© 2018 The Author(s). Thermal quenching, in which light emission experiences a loss with increasing temperature, broadly limits luminescent efficiency at higher temperature in optical materials, such as lighting phosphors 1-3 and fluorescent probes 4-6 . Thermal quenching is commonly caused by the increased activity of phonons that leverages the non-radiative relaxation pathways. Here, we report a kind of heat-favourable phonons existing at the surface of lanthanide-doped upconversion nanomaterials to combat thermal quenching. It favours energy transfer from sensitizers to activators to pump up the intermediate excited-state upconversion process. We identify that the oxygen moiety chelating Yb3+ ions, [Yb···O], is the key underpinning this enhancement. We demonstrate an approximately 2,000-fold enhancement in blue emission for 9.7 nm Yb3+-Tm3+ co-doped nanoparticles at 453 K. This strategy not only provides a powerful solution to illuminate the dark layer of ultra-small upconversion nanoparticles, but also suggests a new pathway to build high-efficiency upconversion systems.
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