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Novel up-conversion (UC) luminescent nanopowders, Sr2CeO4:Yb3+,Ln3+ (Ln = Er, Tm, Ho) were prepared with Pechini method. The Sr2CeO4:Yb3+,Ln3+ (Ln = Er, Tm, Ho) nanopowders had an orthorhombic crystal structure, and showed olive-like morphology with the length of about 260 nm and width of about 130 nm. Under 980 nm lazer excitation, the Sr2CeO4:Yb3+/Er3+, Sr2CeO4:Yb3+/Tm3+, and Sr2CeO4:Yb3+/Ho3+ nanophosphors exhibit strong green, blue, and green UC luminescence, respectively. The luminescence mechanisms for the doped lanthanide ions were thoroughly analyzed.