Finite-Size Effects on Energy Transfer between Dopants in Nanocrystals

Mark J. J. Mangnus, Jeffrey Zom, Tom A. J. Welling, Andries Meijerink, Freddy T. Rabouw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Many phosphor materials rely on energy transfer (ET) between optically active dopant ions. Typically, a donor species absorbs light of one color and transfers the energy to an acceptor species that emits light of a different color. For many applications, it is beneficial, or even crucial, that the phosphor is of nanocrystalline nature. Much unlike the widely recognized finite-size effects on the optical properties of quantum dots, the behavior of optically active ions is generally assumed to be independent of the size or shape of the optically inactive host material. Here, we demonstrate that ET between optically active dopants is also impacted by finite-size effects: Donor ions close to the surface of a nanocrystal (NC) are likely to have fewer acceptors in proximity compared to donors in a bulk-like coordination. As such, the rate and efficiency of ET in nanocrystalline phosphors are low in comparison to that of their bulk counterparts. Surprisingly, these undesired finite-size effects should be considered already for NCs with diameters as large as 12 nm. If we suppress radiative decay of the donor by embedding the NCs in media with low refractive indices, we can compensate for finite-size effects on the ET rate. Experimentally, we demonstrate these finite-size effects and how to compensate for them in YPO4 NCs co-doped with Tb3+ and Yb3+.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111–118
JournalACS Nanoscience Au
Issue number2
Early online date8 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2022


  • energy transfer
  • lanthanide ions
  • nanocrystals
  • luminescence
  • Monte Carlo simulations
  • quantum cutting
  • finite-size effects


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