FFG: Next generation upconversion nanomaterials for bioimaging with approved nanosafety by microfluidic cell assays
NextGenUpcon sets out to improve luminescence upconversion nanomaterials to facilitate their wider application in energy systems, barcodes, diagnostics, and biomedical research. Rare earth doped upconversion luminescent nanomaterials (UCNM) are new fluorescent materials and undergo anti-stokes emission processes, where the long-wavelength pump sources (typically 980 nm or 808 nm) are upconverted to short-wavelength luminescence ranging from the deep-UV to the Near-Infrared (NIR). This phenomenon makes UCNM attractive as spectral converters in solar cells, invisible forgery-proof product quality labels, and background free detection in biomedical applications among others. State-of-the-Art luminescent upconversion nanomaterials are limited by unreproducible syntheses procedures, low upconversion efficiency, inappropriate surface functionalization and unknown toxicity effects. To overcome these limitations, alternative syntheses methods and surface modification procedures will be established by Shanghai University to produce next generation upconversion nanomaterials in larger quantities with improved optical properties and better water solubility. These advanced UCNM will be tested for novel sensor approaches including oxygen and pH imaging by the Shanghai University and TU Graz, while the Austrian partners TU Graz, JR, AIT and kdg opticomp will jointly develop advanced diagnostic microsystems suitable for single cell assays to assess the toxicity of the new nanomaterials. The combination of microfluidics containing hydrodynamic traps for single cell capture with integrated non-invasive optical biosensors capable of monitoring oxygen content and pH changes will lead to cutting edge microfluidic live-cell arrays for medium and high throughput toxicity testing. Using additive printing technologies and rapid replica moulding technologies the project will finally demonstrate the feasibility of industrial large-scale, continuous flow production of advanced lab-on-a-chip systems.