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Inorganic nanoparticles as new optical tools for nanoscale sensing

Abstract

Rare earth (RE)-based materials remain as compounds of paramount importance for optical applications in lighting and visualisation, as well as for the elaboration of new labels and sensors. Nanosized phosphors combine the special spectroscopic properties of REs with the generation of sensitive and controllable optical responses at the nanoscale, which make them extremely attractive tools for applications in biology, industry, environment, and security. Particularly, such luminescent nanomateriais have unique characteristics that allow, for instance, remote determination of temperature (nanothermometry), the detection and quantification of reactive oxygen species, the localised generation of wavelengths capable of exciting photoactive molecules, or the activation of specific chemical reactions under the action of light. Hence, this project aims at elaborating inorganic nanomaterials for nanoscale optical sensing, thus allowing for the development of new non-invasive labelling methodologies for biological media with high spatial and time resolution. We intend to improve synthetic methods for luminescent nanomaterials with investigation of structure and surface effects on their spectroscopic properties. In this sense, we propose to generate structures capable of providing controllable response under light stimulus, combining multiple functionalities of luminescent sensing and catalysis. Finally, this proposal also comprises the evaluation of the behaviour of the synthesized materials in simulated biologic media and in cells, which will contribute with the effective applicability of these solids in thermometry and sensing of reactive oxygen species, as well as in nanoscale catalysis. (AU)

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