Torres Vera, Vivian Andrea

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First Name
Vivian Andrea
Last Name
Torres Vera
Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Faculty / Institute
Química en Ciencias Farmacéuticas
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Upconverting Nanoparticles in Aqueous Media: Not a Dead-End Road. Avoiding Degradation by Using Hydrophobic Polymer Shells

2021-12-13, Méndez González, Diego, Torres Vera, Vivian Andrea, Zabala Gutiérrez, Irene, Gerke, Christoph, Cascales Sedano, Concepción, Rubio Retama, Jorge, Gómez Calderón, Óscar, Melle Hernández, Sonia, Laurenti, Marco

The stunning optical properties of upconverting nanoparticles (UCNPs) have inspired promising biomedical technologies. Nevertheless, their transfer to aqueous media is often accompanied by intense luminescence quenching, partial dissolution by water, and even complete degradation by molecules such as phosphates. Currently, these are major issues hampering the translation of UCNPs to the clinic. In this work, a strategy is developed to coat and protect β-NaYF4 UCNPs against these effects, by growing a hydrophobic polymer shell (HPS) through miniemulsion polymerization of styrene (St), or St and methyl methacrylate mixtures. This allows one to obtain single core@shell UCNPs@HPS with a final diameter of ≈60–70 nm. Stability studies reveal that these HPSs serve as a very effective barrier, impeding polar molecules to affect UCNPs optical properties. Even more, it allows UCNPs to withstand aggressive conditions such as high dilutions (5 μg mL−1), high phosphate concentrations (100 mm), and high temperatures (70 °C). The physicochemical characterizations prove the potential of HPSs to overcome the current limitations of UCNPs. This strategy, which can be applied to other nanomaterials with similar limitations, paves the way toward more stable and reliable UCNPs with applications in life sciences.