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 UPT – The next-generation detection technology

Up-converting Phosphor Technology (UPT), utilizing rare earth doped ceramic particles as reporters,  represents a new generation   of   highly   sensitive   particle-based   bioassays.

The development of up-converting phosphor reporter particles has added a powerful tool to modern detection technologies.  In contrast to conventional fluorescent reporters, up-converting phosphor particles do not bleach and allow permanent excitation with simultaneous signal integration. A large anti-Stokes shift (up to 500 nm) separates discrete emission peaks from the infrared excitation source. Along with the unmatched contrast in biological specimens due to the absence of auto-fluorescence upon infrared excitation, up-converting phosphor technology (UPT) has unique properties for highly- sensitive particle-based assays.

What is UPT

Up-converting Phosphor Technology (UPT), utilizing rare earth doped ceramic particles as reporters which have core-shell structures with surface functional groups suitable for standard bio-conjugations. These reporters are chemically stable,  possess  the  unique  property  of  infrared  up-conversion,   and  are  readily detected.


Green light emission from the phosphor under excitation with 980 nm light



Upconversion is an optical process that involves the conversion of lower-energy photons into higher-energy photons. The increase in energy is achieved by absorbing multiple (usually two or three) photons per single emitted photon.

Over the past decade, high-quality rare earth-doped upconversion nanoparticles have been successfully synthesized with the rapid development of nanotechnology and are becoming more prominent in biological sciences.

The main difference between upconversion nanoparticles and other nanomaterials is that they can emit visible light under near infrared irradiation. The near infrared irradiation leads to low auto-fluorescence, less scattering and absorption, and deep penetration in biological samples.

Illustration of fundamental difference between quantum dots with normal fluorescence and upconversion nanocrystals


Advantages of UPT over conventional fluorescent technology

Several features separate UPT from other fluorescent techniques.

First, no or minimal auto-fluorescence in biological samples

Infrared (IR) up-conversion is a unique process, which does not occur in nature.  Unlike conventional fluorescent reporters, up-converting phosphors transfer low energy IR radiation to high-energy visible light by multi-photon absorption   and   subsequent    emission   of dopant-dependent phosphorescence. The inherent auto-fluorescence associated with most fluorescence-based methods is completely absent in up-converting phosphor assays.

Second, large anti-Stokes shift produces discrete emission signals for multiplex techniques

Up-converting phosphors generate large anti-Stokes shifts of up to 500nm that result in well-separeted emission and excitation bands.  Lanthanide element Yb and Tm   doped yttrium oxysulfide phosphors can absorb 980 nm IR and produce photon   up-converting   emissions  at  475 nm, representing a 505 nm of anti-Stokes shift.

Third, no photobleaching and fading  

UPT reporters do not bleach or fade. They can be stored indefinitely without a decrease in light emitting efficiency and thus allow repetitive re-analysis and long shelf life.


Fourth, suitable for multiplexing assays

The different colours of up-converting phosphor reporters can be excited simultaneously with the same IR source (980 nm).  Conventional band-pass filters can   be  used  between   detection   channels,   because   the emission  spectra  are  well separated   with  bandwidths   of 25–50 nm which ensures that the measured light emission is free of spectral contamination. Multiplexing can be conveniently achieved using UPT reporters with different emitting colours.

UPT demonstrates highest sensitivity, specificity, reproducibility, quantifiability and speed

Over  the  past  few years  UPT  has  demonstrated great progress in human diagnostic applications. The overall cost of  a  diagnostic  test  is  critical  in  today’s  managed   care market  and  drives the search for rapid,  automated assays with a high sensitivity, specificity, reproducibility, and low equipment demand. Besides low cost and high sensitivity, assays should be quantitative as well as adaptable to point-of-care and/or on-site testing.

The unique features of the UPT reporter particles have made all these requirements in laboratories be satisfied and make UPT the unbeatable next generation of fully quantitative detection technology that features high sensitivity, specificity, reproducibility, accuracy, rapidity, and easy-of-use.

UPTquik® Reader – world’s only POCT instrument based on UPT

UPTquik®  Reader is the world’s only POCT system that uses Up-converting Phosphor Technology (UPT) in combination with immunochromatography to quantitatively measure the concentration of target analytes in blood, serum, plasma and other specimens.

UPTquik® - lead the world in quantitative rapid assay

Hotgen Biotech delivers fast, accurate and comprehensive UPTquik® testing kits used on UPTquik® Reader covering biomarkers for cerebro-cardiovascular, infectious, rheumatoid, hepatic and kidney diseases, inflammation, carcinomas, as well as bioterrorist bacteria and toxins, food contamination bacteria, etc. on the UPTquik Reader, with an average testing time at ~20 minutes.



Tests available

  • Inflammation: CRP, Procalcitonin, Interleukin 6
  • Cerebro-cardiovascular diseases: D-Dimer, cTnI, H-FABP, Lp-PLA2, NT-proBNP, CK-MB, Myoglobin
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma: AFP, Golgi Protein 73 (GP73)
  • Preterm delivery: Fetal Fibronectin
  • Hepatic fibrosis and cirrhosis: HA, Laminin, Collagen IV, PIIINP, TIMP-1
  • Kidney diseases: Neutrophil Gelatinase Associated Lipocalin (NGAL)
  • Rheumatoid disease: Anti-CCP
  • Bioterrorist bacteria and toxins: Plague, Anthrax, Tularemia, Abrin, Ricin, Burkholderia Pseudomallei
  • Food safety monitoring: Vibrio Cholera O1/O139, E. Coli O157, E. Coli O157:H7/NM,  Salmonella total and subtypes, Listeria Monocytogenes

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