Department Seminar, Dr. Eva Hemmer, University of Ottawa, Thursday, February 9, 1:30


Please join us on February 9 for a seminar delivered by Dr. Eva Hemmer from the University of Ottawa.

Title: Rare-Earth-Based Nanoparticles – Shining Light on Synthesis and Potential Applications

Date: Thursday, February 9, 2023

Time: 1:30-2:30

Zoom: please contact for Zoom details

Host: Dusan Srdic

Abstract: The remarkable optomagnetic properties of the rare-earths (RE) make RE-based materials ideal for biomedical applications, including diagnostic (e.g., imaging, nanothermometry) and therapeutic (e.g., drug delivery, photodynamic therapy)approaches. This is due the unique electronic properties of the f-elements allowing for up conversion and near-infrared emission under near-infrared excitation as well as high magnetic moments.

Yet, challenges remain; low emission intensity and efficiency of small nanoparticles(NPs), and reliable, fast synthesis routes. As material chemists, we tackle these challenges with new designs of RE-NPs by chemically controlled synthesis, application-oriented surface chemistry, and understanding of structure-property-relationships. Sodium rare-earth fluorides (NaREF4)are our favorite materials, and we developed a fast and reliable microwave-assisted synthesis approach allowing crystalline phase and size control in the sub 15nm realm. Such control is crucial for the understanding of fundamental structure-property relationships and to optimize their optical and magnetic properties, when aiming for the design of next-generation optical probes or contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging. For instance, NaGdF4NPs are gaining interest as alternative MRI contrast agent, while co-doping with RE3+ ions renders them excellent candidates for photoluminescent optical probes. The hexagonal crystalline phase of NaGdF4is known as the more efficient host material for upconversion emission, yet interestingly, it was found that its cubic counterpart shows superior performance as MRI contrast agent. Having a fast and reliable synthesis route towards NaREF4 NPs on hand, we now explore various nanoparticle architectures and compositions with the goal to optimize their optomagnetic properties, ultimately resulting in the design of biocompatible multimodal bioprobes.

This presentation will shed light on recent results and remaining challenges in the field of RE-based nanostructures with respect to their microwave-assisted synthesis as well as structural and optomagnetic properties, seeking biomedical application, while also touching on hyperspectral imaging as an emerging analytical tool offering spatio-spectral information about RE-based materials. 

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