Effects of surroundings on upconversion luminescent properties of rare earth luminescence centers†
A special core/shell/shell structured NaYF4/NaYF4:Yb3+,Er3+/NaYF4 (CSS) nanocrystal was designed to ensure each luminescence center in the emitting shell had the same surroundings. The nanocrystal includes a support core NaYF4 nanoparticle in the center coated by a thin emitting shell NaYF4:Yb3+,Er3+ and another NaYF4 shell with adjustable thickness as the outer shielding shell. The green upconversion fluorescence intensity Ig(d) of the CSS nanoparticles shows an exponential relationship with the thickness d of the shielding shell. When d decreased to 0, Ig(0) was ~356 times smaller than Ig(∞) due to the drastic fluorescence quenching of the rare earth luminescence centers by the surroundings. Our experimental results indicate that ~90% of the severe effect of the surroundings can be eliminated by coating with a ~4 nm-thick NaYF4 shielding shell.