Modulation of Surface Energy Transfer Cascade for Reversible Photoluminescence pH Sensing

Lei Lei, Han Xia, Chang Keun Lim, Shiqing Xu, Ke Wang, Yaping Du, Paras N. Prasad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Monitoring pH is of great importance in a diverse range of fields ranging from the industrial and agricultural to environmental and biomedical fields. Herein we introduce and demonstrate a sensing scheme that utilizes a pH-sensitive ligand, citric acid (CA), to modulate a cascaded energy transfer process in Ce3+-sensitized fluoride nanocrystals (NCs), resulting in a change of emission to provide pH sensing over a broad range from 3 to 10. The ligand modulates cascaded energy transfer from Ce3+ to Gd3+ and then to activators (Tb3+, Eu3+, and Mn2+) in the pH values from 3 to 10. The decreased energy transfer efficiency from Ce3+ to Gd3+ ions by a pH-responsive electronegativity alteration of the ligand at higher pH activates the sensing capability. All of the sensing properties are completely reversible and independent of sensor concentrations in the ratiometric analysis. Our findings provide a new promising pH sensing design based on inorganic fluoride NCs.

Original languageEnglish
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Chemistry

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