The European upconversion network – from the design of photon-upconverting nanomaterials to biomedical applications – UPCON
Head: Hans-Heiner Gorris, PhD (Universität Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany)
Photoluminescent upconverting nanomaterials (UCNMs) are lanthanide-doped nanocrystals that emit visible light under near-infrared excitation. The unique anti-Stokes emission enables background-free luminescent detection, which is essential for many diagnostic applications, bioimaging and chemical sensing. UCNMs are highly photostable and display narrow line-like emissions that enable long observation times and multiplexed detection. Research on photon-upconversion is highly interdisciplinary, but currently fragmented without synchronised research actions in Europe. Further progress in the field is severely restricted by the lack of unified methods for the synthesis, functionalization and characterisation of UCNMs. Missing reference materials and commercial instrumentation make it impossible to compare the results from different groups and precludes the commercialisation of bioanalytical assays, biosensors and diagnostic tools based on these highly promising materials. Consequently, a European network is required to coordinate basic and applied research on UCNMs, standardise procedures, and to make European scientists as well as the high-tech industry aware of this emerging technology. This Action is based on a broad range of scientific disciplines to identify and solve numerous research problems such as upconversion enhancement, surface (bio)functionalisation, detection instrumentation, bioanalytical and diagnostic applications, as well as (nano)toxicity.