Long-lived luminescence of colloidal silicon quantum dots for time-gated fluorescence imaging in the second near infrared window in biological tissue†
Boron (B) and phosphorus (P) codoped silicon quantum dots (Si QDs) are dispersible in polar solvents without organic ligands and exhibit photoluminescence (PL) in the first (NIR-I) and second (NIR-II) near infrared (NIR) windows in biological tissues due to the optical transition from the donor to acceptor states. We studied the relationship between the PL wavelength, lifetime and quantum yield (QY) of the colloidal solution and the composition of the starting material for the preparation. We found that the PL lifetime and the QY are primarily determined by the composition, while the PL wavelength is mainly determined by the growth temperature. By optimizing the composition, we achieved QYs of 20.1% and 1.74% in the NIR-I and NIR-II regions, respectively, in methanol. We demonstrate the application for time-gated imaging in the NIR-II range.