Aggregation-induced heterogeneities in the emission of upconverting nanoparticles at the submicron scale unfolded by hyperspectral microscopy†
Transparent upconverting hybrid nanocomposites are exciting materials for advanced applications such as 3D displays, nanosensors, solar energy converters, and fluorescence biomarkers. This work presents a simple strategy to disperse upconverting β-NaYF4:Yb3+/Er3+ or Tm3+ nanoparticles into low cost, widely used and easy-to-process polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS)-based organic–inorganic hybrids. The upconverting hybrids were shaped as monoliths, films or powders displaying in the whole volume Tm3+ or Er3+ emissions (in the violet/blue and green/red spectral regions, respectively). For the first time, hyperspectral microscopy allows the identification at the submicron scale of differences in the hybrids' emission colour, due to variations in the relative intensity of the distinct components of the upconversion spectrum. The effect is attributed to the size distribution of the agglomerates of nanoparticles, highlighting the importance of studying the emission at submicron scales, since this effect is not observable in measurements recorded in larger areas.
- This article is part of the themed collection: International Year of the Periodic Table : Lanthanides for Precision Therapy and Beyond