Extending the dynamic temperature range of Boltzmann thermometers

Thomas Pieter van Swieten, Jesse Merlijn Steenhoff, Auke Vlasblom, Ravi de Berg, Sam Pieter Mattern, Freddy Teunis Rabouw, Markus Suta*, Andries Meijerink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Lanthanide-doped (nano)crystals are an important class of materials in luminescence thermometry. The working mechanism of these thermometers is diverse but most often relies on variation of the ratio of emission intensities from two thermally coupled excited states with temperature. At low temperatures, nonradiative coupling between the states can be slow compared to radiative decay, but, at higher temperatures, the two states reach thermal equilibrium due to faster nonradiative coupling. In thermal equilibrium, the intensity ratio follows Boltzmann statistics, which gives a convenient model to calibrate the thermometer. Here, we investigate multiple strategies to shift the onset of thermal equilibrium to lower temperatures, which enables Boltzmann thermometry in a wider dynamic range. We use Eu3+-doped microcrystals as a model system and find that the nonradiative coupling rates increase for host lattices with higher vibrational energies and shorter lanthanide–ligand distances, which reduces the onset temperature of thermal equilibrium by more than 400 K. We additionally reveal that thermometers with excited states coupled by electric-dipole transitions have lower onset temperatures than those with magnetic-dipole-coupled states due to selection rules. These insights provide essential guidelines for the optimization of Boltzmann thermometers to operate in an extended temperature range.

Original languageEnglish
Article number343
JournalLight: Science and Applications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2022


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