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Lanthanide-Doped Nanoparticles

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The Lanthanide Research Group, supervised by Dr. John A. Capobianco, specializes in the development, characterization, and applications of lanthanide-doped luminescent nanoparticles. Our primary focus is the synthesis of highly crystalline, monodisperse and colloidally stable nanomaterials, including oxides and fluorides. The nanoparticles can be produced with an organic surface ligand, rendering them dispersible in non-polar solvents, or can be subject to a surface modification to facilitate dispersability in biologically relevant environments.


The lanthanide dopants exhibit luminescence via upconversion or radioluminescence, ranging emissions from near-infrared to ultraviolet wavelengths. Upconversion utilizes low energy (near-infrared) excitation to produce higher energy emissions, which is useful for photo-mediated biological applications that require visible or ultraviolet light. Radioluminescent materials emit under ionizing radiation (x-rays), which is of interest for biological applications at greater tissue depths than near-infrared-based treatments.

We have a multitude of nanoparticle characterization techniques at our disposal, including powder x-ray diffraction (PXRD), infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), transmission and scanning electron microscopy (TEM and SEM), zeta-potential, dynamic light scattering (DLS), and inductively coupled plasma – mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). Spectroscopic techniques include high-resolution emission spectroscopy, laser induced luminescence line narrowing, excited-state lifetime measurements and time-resolved emission spectroscopy, vibrational Raman spectroscopy and radioluminescence emission spectroscopy. These are all attainable with excitation and observable wavelengths spanning the near-infrared, visible and ultraviolet regions and with experimental temperatures ranging 4 K to 500 K.

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