Research Article: Recent Advances on Functionalized Upconversion Nanoparticles for Detection of Small Molecules and Ions in Biosystems

Date Published: January 09, 2018

Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc.

Author(s): Bin Gu, Qichun Zhang.


Significant progress on upconversion‐nanoparticle (UCNP)‐based probes is witnessed in recent years. Compared with traditional fluorescent probes (e.g., organic dyes, metal complexes, or inorganic quantum dots), UCNPs have many advantages such as non‐autofluorescence, high chemical stability, large light‐penetration depth, long lifetime, and less damage to samples. This article focuses on recent achievements in the usage of lanthanide‐doped UCNPs as efficient probes for biodetection since 2014. The mechanisms of upconversion as well as the luminescence resonance energy transfer process is introduced first, followed by a detailed summary on the recent researches of UCNP‐based biodetections including the detection of inorganic ions, gas molecules, reactive oxygen species, and thiols and hydrogen sulfide.

Partial Text

The advancement of biological science is highly depended on new analytical technologies. Especially in the detection of intracellular and intercellular substances, new analytic skills are highly desirable because many molecules in biosystems only display weak signals. One way to address this issue is to introduce some special labels into biosystems. In fact, the strategy to develop new biolabels for the enhancement of biosignals has become one of the hottest areas in recent years.

In this section, we discuss UCNP‐based probes since 2014 according to their different applications including the recognition of inorganic ions, the sensing of reactive oxygen species, the identification of gas molecules, and the detection of thiols and hydrogen sulfide.

UCNPs have many special optical properties that could make UCNP‐based probes suitable in biodetection. In this review, the main upconversion mechanisms and LRET process are discussed. Changing spectral overlap and distance between UCNPs and energy acceptors are two key approaches to manipulate LRET efficiency and achieve the efficient detection goal in biosamples. Moreover, various studies have been summarized for the detection of inorganic ions, pH, gas molecules, reactive oxygen species, and thiols Table1. In these studies, most of these probes employ organic dyes, quantum dots, graphene oxide, and noble metal nanoparticles as energy acceptors.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.




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