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Upconversion Nanomaterials: Synthesis, Mechanism, and Applications in Sensing

Author(s): Jiao Chen | Julia Xiaojun Zhao

Journal: Sensors
ISSN 1424-8220

Volume: 12;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 2414;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: upconversion nanoparticles | biosensing | NIR-radiation

Upconversion is an optical process that involves the conversion of lower-energy photons into higher-energy photons. It has been extensively studied since mid-1960s and widely applied in optical devices. Over the past decade, high-quality rare earth-doped upconversion nanoparticles have been successfully synthesized with the rapid development of nanotechnology and are becoming more prominent in biological sciences. The synthesis methods are usually phase-based processes, such as thermal decomposition, hydrothermal reaction, and ionic liquids-based synthesis. The main difference between upconversion nanoparticles and other nanomaterials is that they can emit visible light under near infrared irradiation. The near infrared irradiation leads to low autofluorescence, less scattering and absorption, and deep penetration in biological samples. In this review, the synthesis of upconversion nanoparticles and the mechanisms of upconversion process will be discussed, followed by their applications in different areas, especially in the biological field for biosensing.
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