5 years ago

Influence of Lu3+ Doping on the Crystal Structure of Uniform Small (5 and 13 nm) NaLnF4 Upconverting Nanocrystals

Influence of Lu3+ Doping on the Crystal Structure of Uniform Small (5 and 13 nm) NaLnF4 Upconverting Nanocrystals
Jothirmayanantham Pichaandi, Mitchell A. Winnik, Lemuel Tong, Elsa Lu, Loryn P. Arnett
While there have been many advances in techniques to synthesize uniform lanthanide-doped upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs), it is still a challenge to synthesize small (ca. 5 nm) hexagonal phase UCNPs that are also bright. The most common method to obtain strongly emissive UCNPs is to synthesize core–shell structures with a passivating shell coating the luminescent core. This approach normally results in larger NPs (>20 nm) and requires two-step procedures. Here, we report a one-pot synthesis of 4 nm NaLuF4:Gd(37%),Yb(16%),Er(2%) UCNPs, whose colloidal solutions show upconversion luminescence (UCL) visible to the eye. We initially hypothesized that the origin of UCL from such small UCNPs was due to a Gd-rich hexagonal upconverting core containing Yb and Er with a Lu-rich passivating shell. This idea is based on the different nucleation rates of the NaLnF4 NPs. Interestingly, the 4 nm NaLuF4-based UCNPs are in the cubic phase, and subsequently undergo a phase transformation with prolonged heating to form larger (12–14 nm) uniform hexagonal phase UCNPs. We also found that if the molar ratio of Lu:Gd in the reaction mixture was decreased from 45:37 to 20:62, the resulting UCNPs still initially nucleated in the cubic phase. Additional studies in which we varied other reaction parameters (temperature, ratios of Na+/Ln3+ and F/Ln3+, and solvent composition) also resulted in initial nucleation in the cubic phase. In contrast, both the NaGdF4:Yb,Er and NaYF4:Gd,Yb,Er UCNPs nucleated in the hexagonal phase. Our results suggest that the presence of Lu in the reaction mixture influences the nucleation of NaLnF4 NPs. Lanthanide compositions that would normally nucleate in the hexagonal phase appear to nucleate in the cubic phase when Lu is present.

Publisher URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jpcc.7b03783

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.7b03783

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