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Concentration Quenching in Upconversion Nanocrystals

posted Nov 16, 2018, 7:16 AM by ­김형민‎(응용화학과)‎

Despite considerable effort to improve upconversion (UC) in lanthanide-doped nanocrystals (NCs), the maximum reported efficiencies remain below 10%. Recently, we reported on low Er3+- and Yb3+-doped NaYF4 NCs giving insight into fundamental processes involved in quenching for isolated ions. In practice, high dopant concentrations are required and there is a trend toward bright UC in highly doped NCs. Here, additional quenching processes due to energy transfer and migration add to a reduction in UC efficiency. However, a fundamental understanding on how concentration quenching affects the quantum efficiency is lacking. Here, we report a systematic investigation on concentration-dependent decay dynamics for Er3+ or Yb3+ doped at various concentrations (1−100%) in core and core−shell NaYF4 NCs. The qualitative and quantitative analyses of luminescence decay curves and emission spectra show strong concentration quenching for the green emitting Er3+ 4S3/2 and NIR-emitting 4I11/2 levels, whereas concentration quenching for the red-emitting 4F9/2 level and the IR emitting 4I13/2 level is limited. The NIR emission of Yb3+ remains efficient even at concentration as high as 60% Yb3+, especially in core−shell NCs. Finally, the role of solvent quenching was investigated and reveals a much stronger quenching in aqueous media that can be explained by the high-energy O−H vibrations. The present study uncovers a more complete picture of quenching processes in highly doped UC NCs and serves to identify methods to further optimize the efficiency by careful tuning of lanthanide concentrations and core−shell design.