Sensitivity modulation of upconverting thermometry through engineering phonon energy of a matrix

Hao Suo, Chongfeng Guo*, Jiming Zheng, Bo Zhou, Chonggeng Ma, Xiaoqi Zhao, Ting Li, Ping Guo, Ewa M. Goldys

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

175 Citations (Scopus)


Investigation of the unclear influential factors to thermal sensing capability is the only way to achieve highly sensitive thermometry, which is greatly needed to meet the growing demand for potential sensing applications. Here, the effect from the phonon energy of a matrix on the sensitivity of upconversion (UC) microthermometers is elaborately discussed using a controllable method. Uniform truncated octahedral YF3:Er3+/Yb3+ microcrystals were prepared by a hydrothermal approach, and phase transformation from YF3 to YOF and Y2O3 with nearly unchanged morphology and size was successfully realized by controlling the annealing temperature. The phonon energies of blank matrixes were determined by FT-IR spectra and Raman scattering. Upon 980 nm excitation, phonon energy-dependent UC emitting color was finely tuned from green to yellow for three samples, and the mechanisms were proposed. Thermal sensing behaviors based on the TCLs (2H11/2/4S3/2) were evaluated, and the sensitivities gradually grew with the increase in the matrix's phonon energy. According to chemical bond theory and first-principle calculations, the most intrinsic factors associated with thermometric ability were qualitatively demonstrated through analyzing the inner relation between the phonon energy and bond covalency. The exciting results provide guiding insights into employing appropriate host materials with desired thermometric ability while offering the possibility of highly accurate measurement of temperature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30312-30319
Number of pages8
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number44
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2016


  • bond covalency
  • phonon energy
  • sensitivity
  • thermometer
  • upconversion


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