Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 407, Issue 1, pp 59–78 | Cite as

Critical review of the determination of photoluminescence quantum yields of luminescent reporters

  • C. Würth
  • D. Geißler
  • T. Behnke
  • M. Kaiser
  • U. Resch-Genger


A crucial variable for methodical performance evaluation and comparison of luminescent reporters is the photoluminescence quantum yield (Φpl). This quantity, defined as the number of emitted photons per number of absorbed photons, is the direct measure of the efficiency of the conversion of absorbed photons into emitted light for small organic dyes, fluorescent proteins, metal–ligand complexes, metal clusters, polymeric nanoparticles, and semiconductor and up-conversion nanocrystals. Φpl determines the sensitivity for the detection of a specific analyte from the chromophore perspective, together with its molar-absorption coefficient at the excitation wavelength. In this review we discuss different optical and photothermal methods for measuring Φpl of transparent and scattering systems for the most common classes of luminescent reporters, and critically evaluate their potential and limitations. In addition, reporter-specific effects and sources of uncertainty are addressed. The ultimate objective is to provide users of fluorescence techniques with validated tools for the determination of Φpl, including a series of Φpl standards for the ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared regions, and to enable better judgment of the reliability of literature data.

Graphical Abstract


Fluorescence Photoluminescence Quantum yield Organic dye Nanoparticle Quantum dot Up-conversion nanocrystal Optical probe Standard Quality assurance Integrating sphere spectroscopy Photoacoustic spectroscopy Thermal lensing Nanocavity 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Würth
    • 1
  • D. Geißler
    • 1
  • T. Behnke
    • 1
  • M. Kaiser
    • 1
  • U. Resch-Genger
    • 1
  1. 1.BAM - Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing, Division 1.10 BiophotonicsBerlinGermany

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