Unraveling energy conversion modeling in the intrinsic persistent upconverted luminescence of solids: a study of native point defects in antiferromagnetic Er2O3
We investigated the mechanism of the intrinsic persistent luminescence of Er2O3 in the A-type lattice based on first-principles calculations. We found that the native point defects were engaged in mutual subtle interactions in the form of chemical reactions between different charge states. The release of energy related to lattice distortion facilitates the conversion of energy for electrons to be transported between the valence band and the trap levels or even between the deep trap levels so as to generate persistent luminescence. The defect transitions that take place along the zero-phonon line release energy to enable optical transitions, with the exact amount of negative effective correlation energy determined by the lattice distortions. Our calculations on the thermodynamic transition levels confirm that both the visible and NIR experimentally observed intrinsic persistent luminescence (phosphor or afterglow) are related to the thermodynamic transition levels of oxygen-related defects, and the thermodynamic transition levels within different charge states for these defects are independent of the chemical potentials of the given species. Lattice distortion defects such as anion Frenkel (a-Fr) pair defects play an important role in transporting O-related defects between different lattice sites. To obtain red persistent luminescence that matches the biological therapeutic window, it is suggested to increase the electron transition levels between high-coordinated O vacancies and related metastable a-Fr defects; a close-packed core–shell structure is required to quench low-coordinated O-related defects so as to reduce the green band luminescence. We further established a conversed chain reaction (CCR) model to interpret the energy conversion process of persistent luminescence in terms of the inter-reactions of native point defects between different charge states. It is advantageous to use the study of defect levels combined with formation energies to suggest limits to doping energy and explain photostimulated luminescence in terms of native point defects.