One-pot template-free synthesis of NaYF4 upconversion hollow nanospheres for bioimaging and drug delivery

Gan Tian, Longsheng Duan, Xiao Zhang, Wenyan Yin, Liang Yan, Liangjun Zhou, Xiaodong Liu, Xiaopeng Zheng, Jinxia Li, Zhanjun Gu, Yuliang Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Hollow-structured nanomaterials with fluorescent properties are extremely attractive for image-guided cancer therapy. In this paper, sub-100 nm and hydrophilic NaYF4 upconversion (UC) hollow nanospheres (HNSs) with multicolor UC luminescence and drug-delivery properties were successfully prepared by a facile one-pot template-free hydrothermal route using polyetherimide (PEI) polymer as the stabilizing agent. XRD, SEM, TEM, and N 2-adsorption/desorption were used to characterize the as-obtained products. The growth mechanism of the HNSs has been systematically investigated on the basis of the Ostwald ripening. Under 980 nm excitation, UC emissions of HNSs can be tuned by a simple change of the concentration or combination of various upconverters. As a result, the PEI-coated HNSs could be used as efficient probes for in vitro upconversion luminescence (UCL) cell imaging. Furthermore, a doxorubicin storage/release behavior and cancer-cell-killing ability investigation reveal that the product has the potential to be a drug carrier for cancer therapy. One pot, zero template: Sub-100 nm NaYF4 upconversion (UC) hollow nanospheres (HNSs) were successfully fabricated by a facile one-pot template-free synthesis route by undergoing a gas-bubble-assisted Ostwald ripening mechanism. These UC HNSs with good water solubility have low toxicity to living cells. The UC HNSs could potentially be applied for image-guided drug delivery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1655-1662
Number of pages8
JournalChemistry - An Asian Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • drug delivery
  • hollow nanospheres
  • luminescence
  • one-pot synthesis
  • Ostwald ripening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)


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