The widespread forgery in all kinds of paper documents and certificates has become a real threat to society. Traditional fluorescent anti-counterfeiting materials generally exhibit unicolor display and suffer greatly from substitution, thus leading to a poor anti-counterfeiting effect. In this work, unseen but significant enhanced blue down-conversion emission from oleic acid-stabilized lanthanide-doped fluoride nanocrystals is first present and the mechanism is proposed and validated. This not only endows these nanocrystals with dual-mode fluorescence, but also offers a simplified synthesis approach for dual-mode fluorescent nanocrystals involving no further complicated assembly or coating procedures, unlike the traditional methods. Furthermore, by changing the host/dopant combination or the content of dopant, these nanocrystals can exhibit simultaneously multicolor up-conversion emission under excitation at near-infrared light and unalterable blue down-conversion emission under ultraviolet light. A preliminary investigation of their anti-counterfeiting performance has been made, and the results indicate that this color tuning capability and high concealment makes these nanocrystals behave in a similar way to chameleons and can provide a strengthened and more reliable anti-counterfeiting effect.
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