Resonance Energy Transfer in Upconversion Nanoplatforms for Selective Biodetection
Conspectus Resonance energy transfer (RET) describes the process that energy is transferred from an excited donor to an acceptor molecule, leading to a reduction in the fluorescence emission intensity of the donor and an increase in that of the acceptor. By this technique, measurements with the good sensitivity can be made about distance within 1 to 10 nm under physiological conditions. For this reason, the RET technique has been widely used in polymer science, biochemistry, and structural biology. Recently, a number of RET systems incorporated with nanoparticles, such as quantum dots, gold nanoparticles, and upconversion nanoparticles, have been developed. These nanocrystals retain their optical superiority and can act as either a donor or a quencher, thereby enhancing the performance of RET systems and providing more opportunities in excitation wavelength selection. Notably, lanthanide-doped upconversion nanophosphors (UCNPs) have attracted considerable attention due to their inherent advantages of large anti-Stoke shifts, long luminescence lifetimes, and absence of autofluorescence under low energy near-infrared (NIR) light excitation. These nanoparticles are promising for the biodetection of various types of analytes. Undoubtedly, the developments of those applications usually rely on resonance energy transfer, which could be regarded as a flexible technology to mediate energy transfer from upconversion phosphor to acceptor for the design of luminescent functional nanoplatforms. Currently, researchers have developed many RET-based upconversion nanosystems (RET-UCNP) that respond to specific changes in the biological environments. Specifically, small organic molecules, biological molecules, metal–organic complexes, or inorganic nanoparticles were carefully selected and bound to the surface of upconversion nanoparticles for the preparation of RET-UCNP nanosystems. Benefiting from the advantage and versatility offered by this technology, the research of RET-based upconversion nanomaterials should have significant implications for advanced biomedical applications. It should be noted that energy transfer in a UCNP based nanosystem is most often related to resonance energy transfer but that reabsorption (and maybe other energy transfer processes) may also play an important role and that more studies regarding the fundamental aspects for energy transfer with UCNPs is necessary. In this Account, we present an overview of recent advances in RET-based upconversion nanocomposites for biodetection with a particular focus on our own work. We have designed a series of upconversion nanoplatforms with remarkably high versatility for different applications. The experience gained from our strategic design and experimental investigations will allow for the construction of next-generation luminescent nanoplatform with marked improvements in their performance. The key aspects of this Account include fundamental principles, design and preparation strategies, biodetection in vitro and in vivo , future opportunities, and challenges of RET-UCNP nanosystems. Graphic Abstract
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