Scientific article
Open access

Seeking Brightness in Molecular Erbium-Based Light Upconversion

Published inJournal of the American Chemical Society, vol. 145, no. 15, p. 8621-8633; jacs.3c01331
Publication date2023-04-05
First online date2023-04-05

Whereas dye-sensitized lanthanide-doped nanoparticles represent an unquestionable advance for pushing linear near-infrared (NIR) to visible-light upconversion within the frame of applications, analogous improvements are difficult to mimic for related but intramolecular processes induced at the molecular level in coordination complexes. Major difficulties arise from the cationic nature of the target cyanine-containing sensitizers (S), which drastically limits their thermodynamic affinities for catching the lanthanide activators (A) required for performing linear light upconversion. In this context, the rare previous design of stable dye-containing molecular SA light-upconverters required large S···A distances at the cost of the operation of only poorly efficient intramolecular S → A energy transfers and global sensitization. With the synthesis of the compact ligand [L2]+, we exploit here the benefit of using a single sulfur connector between the dye and the binding unit for counterbalancing the drastic electrostatic penalty which is expected to prevent metal complexation. Quantitative amounts of nine-coordinate [L2Er(hfac)3]+ molecular adducts could be finally prepared in solution at millimolar concentrations, while the S···A distance has been reduced by 40% to reach circa 0.7 nm. Detailed photophysical studies demonstrate the operation of a three times improved energy transfer upconversion (ETU) mechanism for molecular [L2Er(hfac)3]+ in acetonitrile at room temperature, thanks to the boosted heavy atom effect operating in the close cyanine/Er pair. NIR excitation at 801 nm can thus be upconverted into visible light (525–545 nm) with an unprecedented brightness of Bup(801 nm) = 2.0(1) × 10–3 M–1·cm–1 for a molecular lanthanide complex.

Citation (ISO format)
TAARIT, Inès et al. Seeking Brightness in Molecular Erbium-Based Light Upconversion. In: Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2023, vol. 145, n° 15, p. 8621–8633. doi: 10.1021/jacs.3c01331
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ISSN of the journal0002-7863

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