Photophysical properties and fluorescence lifetime imaging of exfoliated near-infrared fluorescent silicate nanosheets


Selvaggio G, Weitzel M, Oleksiievets N, Oswald TA, Nißler R, Mey I, Karius V, Enderlein J, Tsukanov R, Kruss S


Nanoscale Advances


Nanoscale Adv., 2021.


The layered silicates Egyptian Blue (CaCuSi4O10, EB), Han Blue (BaCuSi4O10, HB) and Han Purple (BaCuSi2O6, HP) emit as bulk materials bright and stable fluorescence in the near-infrared (NIR), which is of high interest for (bio)photonics due to minimal scattering, absorption and phototoxicity in this spectral range. So far the optical properties of nanosheets (NS) of these silicates are poorly understood. Here, we exfoliate them into monodisperse nanosheets, report their physicochemical properties and use them for (bio)photonics. The approach uses ball milling followed by tip sonication and centrifugation steps to exfoliate the silicates into NS with lateral size and thickness down to ≈ 16–27 nm and 1–4 nm, respectively. They emit at ≈ 927 nm (EB-NS), 953 nm (HB-NS) and 924 nm (HP-NS), and single NS can be imaged in the NIR. The fluorescence lifetimes decrease from ≈ 30–100 μs (bulk) to 17 μs (EB-NS), 8 μs (HB-NS) and 7 μs (HP-NS), thus enabling lifetime-encoded multicolor imaging both on the microscopic and the macroscopic scale. Finally, remote imaging through tissue phantoms reveals the potential for bioimaging. In summary, we report a procedure to gain monodisperse NIR fluorescent silicate nanosheets, determine their size-dependent photophysical properties and showcase the potential for NIR photonics.


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