Optimization of highly sensitive YAG:Cr3+,Nd3+ nanocrystal-based luminescent thermometer operating in an optical window of biological tissues
Luminescent and temperature sensitive properties of YAG:Cr3+,Nd3+ nanocrystals were analyzed as a function of temperature, nanoparticle size, and excitation wavelength. Due to numerous temperature-dependent phenomena (e.g. Boltzmann population, thermal quenching, and inter-ion energy transfer) occurring in this phosphor, four different thermometer definitions were evaluated with the target to achieve a high sensitivity and broad temperature sensitivity range. Using a Cr3+ to Nd3+ emission intensity ratio, the highest 3.48% K−1 sensitivity was obtained in the physiological temperature range. However, high sensitivity was compromised by a narrow sensitivity range or vice versa. The knowledge of the excitation and temperature susceptibility mechanisms enabled wise selection of the spectral features found in luminescence spectra for a temperature readout, which enabled the preservation of relatively high temperature sensitivity (>1.2% K−1 max) and extended the temperature sensitivity range from 100 K to 850 K. The size of the nanophosphors had negligible impact on the performance of the studied materials.