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Abstract

Lanthanide ions possess fascinating optical properties and their discovery, first industrial uses and present high technological applications are largely governed by their interaction with light. Lighting devices (economical luminescent lamps, light emitting diodes), television and computer displays, optical fibres, optical amplifiers, lasers, as well as responsive luminescent stains for biomedical analysis, medical diagnosis, and cell imaging rely heavily on lanthanide ions. This critical review has been tailored for a broad audience of chemists, biochemists and materials scientists; the basics of lanthanide photophysics are highlighted together with the synthetic strategies used to insert these ions into mono- and polymetallic molecular edifices. Recent advances in NIR-emitting materials, including liquid crystals, and in the control of luminescent properties in polymetallic assemblies are also presented. (210 references.)

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