Thermal enhancement of upconversion emission in nanocrystals: a comprehensive summary
Luminescence thermal stability is a major figure of merit of lanthanide-doped nanoparticles playing an essential role in determining their potential applications in advanced optics. Unfortunately, considering the intensification of multiple electron-vibration interactions as temperature increases, luminescence thermal quenching of lanthanide-doped materials is generally considered to be inevitable. Recently, the emergence of thermally enhanced upconversion luminescence in lanthanide-doped nanoparticles seemed to challenge this stereotype, and the research on this topic rapidly aroused wide attention. While considerable efforts have been made to explore the origin of this phenomenon, the key mechanism of luminescence enhancement is still under debate. Here, to sort out the context of this intriguing finding, the reported results on this exciting topic are reviewed, and the corresponding enhancement mechanisms as proposed by different researchers are summarized. Detailed analyses are provided to evaluate the contribution of the most believed “surface-attached moisture desorption” process on the overall luminescence enhancement of lanthanide-doped nanoparticles at elevated temperatures. The impacts of other surface-related processes and shell passivation on the luminescence behaviour of the lanthanide-doped materials are also elaborated. Lack of standardization in the reported data and the absence of important experimental information, which greatly hinders the cross-checking and reanalysis of the results, is emphasized as well. On the foundation of these discussions, it is realized that the thermal-induced luminescence enhancement is a form of recovery process against the strong luminescence quenching in the system, and the enhancement degree is closely associated with the extent of luminescence loss induced by various quenching effects beforehand.