Enhanced up-conversion photoluminescence in fluoride–oxyfluoride nanophosphor films by embedding gold nanoparticles†
Owing to their unique non-linear optical character, lanthanide-based up-converting materials are potentially interesting for a wide variety of fields ranging from biomedicine to light harvesting. However, their poor luminescent efficiency challenges the development of technological applications. In this context, localized surface plasmon resonances (LSPRs) have been demonstrated as a valuable strategy to improve light conversion. Herein, we utilize LSPR induced by gold nanoparticles (NPs) to enhance up-conversion photoluminescence (UCPL) in transparent, i.e. scattering-free, films made of nanophosphors formed by fluoride–oxyfluoride host matrix that feature high thermal stability. Transparency allows excitation by an external source without extinction losses caused by unwanted diffuse reflection. We provide a simple method to embed gold NPs in films made of YF/YOF:Yb3+,Er3+ UC nanophosphors, via preparation of a viscous paste composed of both UC nanophosphors and colloidal gold NPs, reducing complexity in sample fabrication. The dimensions of gold NPs are such that their associated LSPR matches spectrally with the green emission band of the Er3+ doped nanophosphors. In order to demonstrate the benefits of plasmonic nanoparticles for UCPL in nanophosphor films, we provide a careful analysis of the structural properties of the composite thin films along with precise characterization of the impact of the gold NPs on the photophysical properties of UC nanophosphors.