UMMS Affiliation

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology; Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Publication Date


Document Type



Biochemistry | Biomedical Engineering and Bioengineering | Chemistry | Enzymes and Coenzymes | Nanotechnology


Triplet-triplet annihilation upconversion nanoparticles have attracted considerable interest due to their promises in organic chemistry, solar energy harvesting and several biological applications. However, triplet-triplet annihilation upconversion in aqueous solutions is challenging due to sensitivity to oxygen, hindering its biological applications under ambient atmosphere. Herein, we report a simple enzymatic strategy to overcome oxygen-induced triplet-triplet annihilation upconversion quenching. This strategy stems from a glucose oxidase catalyzed glucose oxidation reaction, which enables rapid oxygen depletion to turn on upconversion in the aqueous solution. Furthermore, self-standing upconversion biological sensors of such nanoparticles are developed to detect glucose and measure the activity of enzymes related to glucose metabolism in a highly specific, sensitive and background-free manner. This study not only overcomes the key roadblock for applications of triplet-triplet annihilation upconversion nanoparticles in aqueous solutions, it also establishes the proof-of-concept to develop triplet-triplet annihilation upconversion nanoparticles as background free self-standing biological sensors.


Biosensors, Nanoparticles

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Copyright © The Author(s) 2021. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit

DOI of Published Version



Huang L, Le T, Huang K, Han G. Enzymatic enhancing of triplet-triplet annihilation upconversion by breaking oxygen quenching for background-free biological sensing. Nat Commun. 2021 Mar 26;12(1):1898. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-22282-1. PMID: 33772017; PMCID: PMC7997900. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Nature communications

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.