Photoluminescence of cerium fluoride and cerium-doped lanthanum fluoride nanoparticles and investigation of energy transfer to photosensitizer molecules†
CexLa1−xF3 nanoparticles have been proposed for use in nanoscintillator–photosensitizer systems, where excitation of nanoparticles by ionizing radiation would result in energy transfer to photosensitizer molecules, effectively combining the effects of radiotherapy and photodynamic therapy. Thus far, there have been few experimental investigations of such systems. This study reports novel synthesis methods for water-dispersible Ce0.1La0.9F3/LaF3 and CeF3/LaF3 core/shell nanoparticles and an investigation of energy transfer to photosensitizers. Unbound deuteroporphyrin IX 2,4-disulfonic acid was found to substantially quench the luminescence of large (>10 nm diameter) aminocaproic acid-stabilized nanoparticles at reasonable concentrations and loading amounts: up to 80% quenching at 6% w/w photosensitizer loading. Energy transfer was found to occur primarily through a cascade, with excitation of “regular” site Ce3+ at 252 nm relayed to photosensitizer molecules at the nanoparticle surface through intermediate “perturbed” Ce3+ sites. Smaller (<5 nm) citrate-stabilized nanoparticles were coated with the bisphosphonate alendronate, allowing covalent conjugation to chlorin e6 and resulting in static quenching of the nanoparticle luminescence: ∼50% at ∼0.44% w/w. These results provide insight into energy transfer mechanisms that may prove valuable for optimizing similar systems.