Technique for Tagging Therapeutically Relevant Compounds for Tracking and Evaluation Using Infrared Excitation Sources

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Block diagram of the experiment used to determine the emission spectra of the samples
Michael Bass, Ph.D.
Sudipta Seal, Ph.D.
William Self, Ph.D.
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Biocompatible nano rare earth oxide upconverters for imaging and therapeutics

US Patent 9,127,202 B1

Methods, apparatus and systems for doping cerium oxide and other therapeutically valuable nanoparticles with rare earth ions so that infrared light is absorbed and visible light is emitted through the process of up-conversion

Nanoparticles are increasingly being used in the biological sciences for various therapeutic and research purposes. Nanoceria, for example, is a potentially powerful “nano-therapeutic”. It has been shown to provide neurological protection, guard from radiation damage and it also exhibits Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) scavenging properties. Little is known about where these nanoparticles locate within the human body. They are difficult to detect due to their small size and ability to traverse within affected cells. For these reasons the need to track, locate and understand these nanoparticles within cells and biological systems is growing. It is possible to dope these nanoparticles with tags that will absorb UV light and emit in the visible spectrum, but there are several downsides to this. UV light has a high potential of damaging or even killing the very cells which are being studied. Additionally, these cells are prone to fluoresce themselves when exposed to UV light, distorting results.

Technical Details

UCF scientists have discovered a method of doping nanoceria and other therapeutically valuable nanoparticles with rare earth metals for bioimaging and drug development applications. After doping a therapeutic candidate using this technique, the compound will absorb infrared light and emit visible light through the process of up-conversion. This allows for easier identification, tracking and evaluation of the nanoparticle’s functionality.


  • Inexpensive
  • Compatible with a variety of nanoparticles
  • Does not use harmful ultraviolet light


  • Drug design
  • Therapeutics
  • Pharmaceuticals