Phonon-assisted energy back transfer-induced multicolor upconversion emission of Gd2O3:Yb3+/Er3+ nanoparticles under near-infrared excitation
Manipulation of upconversion (UC) emission is of particular importance for multiplexed bioimaging. Here, we precisely manipulate the UC color output by utilizing the phonon-assisted energy back transfer (EBT) process in ultra-small (sub-10 nm) Gd2O3:Yb3+/Er3+ UC nanoparticles (UCNPs). We synthesized the Gd2O3:Yb3+/Er3+ UCNPs by adopting the laser ablation in liquid (LAL) technique. The synthesized Gd2O3:Yb3+/Er3+ UCNPs are small spherical and monoclinic structures. Continuous color-tunable (from green to red) UC fluorescence emission is achieved by increasing the concentration of Yb3+ ions from 0 to 15 mol%. A phonon-assisted energy back transfer (EBT) process from Er3+ (4S3/2 → 4I13/2) to nearby Yb3+ (2F7/2 → 2F5/2), which can significantly enhance red emission at 672 nm and decrease green emission, is responsible for the color-tunable UC emission by increasing the Yb3+ concentration in Gd2O3:Yb3+/Er3+ UC nanoparticles.