Enhanced red emission from GdF3:Yb3+,Er3+ upconversion nanocrystals by Li+ doping and their application for bioimaging

Wenyan Yin, Lina Zhao, Liangjun Zhou, Zhanjun Gu, Xiaoxiao Liu, Gan Tian, Shan Jin, Liang Yan, Wenlu Ren, Gengmei Xing, Yuliang Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

144 Scopus citations


Under 980 nm near-infrared (NIR) excitation, upconversion luminescent (UCL) emission of GdF3:Yb,Er upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) synthesized by a simple and green hydrothermal process can be tuned from yellow to red by varying the concentration of dopant Li+ ions. A possible mechanism for enhanced red upconverted radiation is proposed. A layer of silica was coated onto the surface of GdF3:Yb,Er,Li UCNPs to improve their biocompatibility. The silica-coated GdF3:Yb,Er,Li UCNPs show great advantages in cell labeling and in vivo optical imaging. Moreover, GdF 3 UCNPs also exhibited a positive contrast effect in T 1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These results suggest that the GdF3 UCNPs could act as dual-modality biolabels for optical imaging and MRI. Dual-modality biolabels: GdF3:Yb,Er upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) can be tuned in emission color from yellow to increasingly red by doping with Li+ ions (see figure). The red emission of silica-coated GdF3:Yb,Er,Li UCNPs has great potential for in vivo and in vitro optical imaging, while the positive-contrast effect of their Gd 3+ ions allows them to be used in magnetic resonance imaging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9239-9245
Number of pages7
JournalChemistry - A European Journal
Issue number30
StatePublished - Jul 23 2012


  • doping
  • fluorescent probes
  • hydrothermal synthesis
  • imaging agents
  • nanoparticles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)


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