Upconversion nanoparticles: a versatile solution to multiscale biological imaging

Bioconjug Chem. 2015 Feb 18;26(2):166-75. doi: 10.1021/bc5003967. Epub 2014 Oct 27.


Lanthanide-doped photon upconverting nanomaterials are emerging as a new class of imaging contrast agents, providing numerous unprecedented possibilities in the realm of biomedical imaging. Because of their ability to convert long-wavelength near-infrared excitation radiation into shorter-wavelength emissions, these nanomaterials are able to produce assets of low imaging background, large anti-Stokes shift, as well as high optical penetration depth of light for deep tissue optical imaging or light-activated drug release and therapy. The aim of this review is to line up some issues associated with conventional fluorescent probes, and to address the recent advances of upconverting nanoparticles (UCNPs) as a solution to multiscale biological imaging applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fluorescent Dyes* / analysis
  • Fluorescent Dyes* / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Lanthanoid Series Elements* / analysis
  • Lanthanoid Series Elements* / therapeutic use
  • Nanoparticles* / analysis
  • Nanoparticles* / therapeutic use
  • Nanoparticles* / ultrastructure
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Optical Imaging / methods*
  • Photochemotherapy / methods


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Lanthanoid Series Elements