Upconversion nanomaterials: a platform for biosensing, theranostic and photoregulation

N. Xin, D. Wei, Y. Zhu, M. Yang, S. Ramakrishna, O. Lee, H. Luo, H. Fan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) are a kind of unique optical material, that are able to emit ultraviolet (UV), visible or near infrared (NIR) luminescence upon NIR light excitation. Because of their excellent physic-chemical characters including enormous anti-Stokes spectral shift, high resistance to photobleaching, fairly long luminescent lifetime, excellent chemical stability, sharp emission band, and deep tissue penetration depth, UCNPs have become a useful tool in bioimaging, biosensing, as well as cancer therapy. In particularly, the emissions light from UCNPs can activate photosensitive molecules, which has the potential to realize the regulation of cell behaviors, including cell growth, adhesion and differentiation. This review consequently introduces the principle and achievements of UCNPs in biomedical field to the general readers for promoting both fundamental research and bio-applications of UCNPs. After the brief introduction of the physical mechanism of upconversion luminescence (UCL), we introduce several strategies to enhance the emissions brightness in detail, then discuss various biomedical applications of UCNPs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100329
JournalMaterials Today Chemistry
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • Biomedical applications
  • Emission optimization
  • UCL
  • UCNPs


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