Improving performance of luminescent nanothermometers based on non-thermally and thermally coupled levels of lanthanides by modulating laser power†
This work sheds light on the pump power impact on the performance of luminescent thermometers, which is often underestimated by researchers. An up-converting, inorganic nanoluminophore, YVO4:Yb3+,Er3+ (nanothermometer) was synthesized using the hydrothermal method and a subsequent calcination. This nanomaterial appears as a white powder composed of small nanoparticles (≈20 nm), exhibiting a very intense, green upconverted luminescence (λex = 975 nm), visible to the naked eye. Its emission spectrum consists of four Er3+ bands (500–850 nm) and one Yb3+ band (>900 nm). The obtained compound exhibits temperature-dependent luminescence properties, hence it is used as an optical nanosensor of temperature. The determined band intensity ratios of the non-thermally coupled levels (non-TCLs) of Yb3+/Er3+ and thermally coupled levels (TCLs) of Er3+ are correlated with temperature, and they are used for ratiometric sensing of temperature. The effects of the pump (NIR laser) power on the luminescence properties of the material, including band intensity ratios, absolute and relative sensitivities and temperature resolution are analysed. It was pointed out that the applied laser power has a huge impact on the values of the aforementioned thermometric parameters, and manipulating the laser power can significantly improve the performance of optical nanothermometers.