Robust upconversion luminescence of Ho3+/Yb3+ co-doped TiO2 nanophosphors manifested by crystallinity

M. Matakgane, T. P. Mokoena, R. E. Kroon, S. J. Mofokeng, M. R. Mhlongo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report on the variation of annealing temperatures (ATs) (300, 500, and 650 °C) on holmium (Ho3+) and ytterbium (Yb3+) co-doped titanium dioxide (TiO2:Ho3+/Yb3+) nanophosphors synthesized by hydrothermal technique. The structure, morphology, and luminescence properties of the nanophosphors were examined in relation to the impact of AT and doping. X-ray diffraction (XRD) confirmed that the nanophosphors have crystallized in the tetragonal phases of anatase and rutile and the orthorhombic phase of brookite. The calculated crystallite sizes confirmed that the prepared phosphors were in a nanoscale regime. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) showed that as AT increases the particles become smoother and more agglomerated and sharper nanorods are developed. Energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) confirmed the elemental composition and phase purity. Diffuse reflectance spectra (DRS) exhibited several absorption bands at 419, 451, 484, 540 and 646 nm. These absorption bands were assigned to the transitions from the ground state 5I8 to various excited states 5G5 5G6, 5F3, 5F4/5S2, and 5F5 of the Ho3+ ions, respectively. The energy bandgaps (Eg) of as-prepared TiO2:Ho3+/Yb3+, and annealed samples at 300, 500, and 650 °C were 3.92, 3.96, 3.87, and 3.80 eV, respectively. The upconversion (UC) emission spectra upon excitation wavelength of 980 nm revealed two emission peaks located at 545 and 660 nm from TiO2:Ho3+/Yb3+ annealed at 500 and 650 °C, and these emission peaks can be attributed to 5S2/5F44I8 and 5F55I8 transitions of Ho3+ ions, respectively. The Commission Internationale de I'Eclairage (CIE) analysis revealed that AT has tuned the emission colour from yellow to green. The results suggest that the TiO2:Ho3+/Yb3+ nanophosphor's promising characteristics can ensure improved luminescence performance in solar cells, such as dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs).

Original languageEnglish
Article number137747
JournalJournal of Molecular Structure
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2024


  • Annealing temperature
  • Crystallinity
  • Hydrothermal
  • Titania
  • Upconversion


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