Inorganic fluorescent nanoparticles (NPs) have initiated an extensive upsurge in biological application research. Just as quantum dots are regarded as a vigorous reinforcement of the organic dye family, rare earth (RE) fluorescent NPs, as another phosphors branch, also possess unique optical characteristics. The advantages of RE NPs in photostability and colorimetric purity make them suitable for bioprobe applications. Since the preparation technologies have been well developed, it is favourable to prompt the research in the interdisciplinary field of biology and material sciences. Herein, we summarize the synthesis and performance, together with bioprobe applications of RE oxide, sulfoxide, vanadate, phosphate, fluoride, and sodium RE fluoride nanomaterials. The prospects of these promising materials as applied in the biological field is described to draw readers′ attention and to attract more research interest.
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