Journal article Open Access

Making Nd3+ a Sensitive Luminescent Thermometer for Physiological Temperatures — An Account of Pitfalls in Boltzmann Thermometry

Suta, Markus; Antic, Željka; Ðordevic, Vesna; Kuzman, Sanja; Dramicanin, Miroslav D.; Meijerink, Andries

Ratiometric luminescence thermometry employing luminescence within the biological transparency windows provides high potential for biothermal imaging. Nd3+ is a promising candidate for that purpose due to its intense radiative transitions within biological windows (BWs) I and II and the simultaneous efficient excitability within BW I. This makes Nd3+ almost unique among all lanthanides. Typically, emission from the two 4F3/2 crystal field levels is used for thermometry but the small ~100 cm−1 energy separation limits the sensitivity. A higher sensitivity for physiological temperatures is possible using the luminescence intensity ratio (LIR) of the emissive transitions from the 4F5/2 and 4F3/2 excited spin-orbit levels. Herein, we demonstrate and discuss various pitfalls that can occur in Boltzmann thermometry if this particular LIR is used for physiological temperature sensing. Both microcrystalline, dilute (0.1%) Nd3+-doped LaPO4 and LaPO4: x% Nd3+ (x = 2, 5, 10, 25, 100) nanocrystals serve as an illustrative example. Besides structural and optical characterization of those luminescent thermometers, the impact and consequences of the Nd3+ concentration on their luminescence and performance as Boltzmann-based thermometers are analyzed. For low Nd3+ concentrations, Boltzmann equilibrium starts just around 300 K. At higher Nd3+ concentrations, cross-relaxation processes enhance the decay rates of the 4F3/2 and 4F5/2 levels making the decay faster than the equilibration rates between the levels. It is shown that the onset of the useful temperature sensing range shifts to higher temperatures, even above ~ 450 K for Nd concentrations over 5%. A microscopic explanation for pitfalls in Boltzmann thermometry with Nd3+ is finally given and guidelines for the usability of this lanthanide ion in the field of physiological temperature sensing are elaborated. Insight in competition between thermal coupling through non-radiative transitions and population decay through cross-relaxation of the 4F5/2 and 4F3/2 spin-orbit levels of Nd3+ makes it possible to tailor the thermometric performance of Nd3+ to enable physiological temperature sensing.

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 FET Open programme under grant agreement No 801305 (NanoTBTech).
Files (5.5 MB)
Name Size
5.5 MB Download
Views 47
Downloads 39
Data volume 212.7 MB
Unique views 39
Unique downloads 35


Cite as