Solving the oxygen sensitivity of sensitized photon upconversion in life science applications

S.H.C. Askes, S. Bonnet

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


© 2018, Springer Nature Limited.The conversion of low-energy light into high-energy light, also known as upconversion, can be exploited in life science applications such as bioimaging and phototherapy. Sensitized triplet–triplet annihilation upconversion (sTTA-UC) is one type of upconversion in which a photosensitizer is excited using a low-energy light and then transfers energy to an annihilator that emits at much higher energy. Changing the molecular components enables the fine-tuning of excitation and emission wavelengths. sTTA-UC is an appealing approach because it results in high upconversion efficiencies. However, its sensitivity to the presence of dioxygen in living cells and biological tissues is problematic. In this Review, the essential requirements of sTTA-UC for bio-nanodevices and life science applications are outlined before discussing the different ways to circumvent the dioxygen sensitivity of sTTA-UC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-452
JournalNature Reviews Chemistry
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


This work was supported by the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO-CW) via an Innovational Research Incentives Scheme (VIDI) grant to S.B. The European Research Council is kindly acknowledged for a Starting Grant to S.B. E. Bouwman is gratefully acknowledged for her support and input.

FundersFunder number
Dutch Organization for Scientific Research
European Research Council


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