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Issue 6, 2018
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Folic acid-functionalized graphene quantum dots with tunable fluorescence emission for cancer cell imaging and optical detection of Hg2+

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Abstract

Functional groups may alter the optical and electrical characteristics of graphene quantum dots and lead to unusual properties and related applications. The paper reports a facile synthesis of folic acid-functionalized graphene quantum dots (FA-GQDs) via thermal pyrolysis of maleic acid (MA) and folic acid (FA). The resulting FA-GQDs display a strong and tunable fluorescence emission under visible light excitation. Interestingly, the fluorescence emission depends on the ratio of FA/MA used in the synthesis of FA-GQDs and the excitation wavelength. FA groups were covalently anchored at the edge of graphene sheets, thus FA-GQDs can be used as a turn-on fluorescent probe for folate receptor-positive cancer cells. The uptake of designed FA-GQDs by HepG2 cells was verified by confocal laser scanning microscopy. FA-GQDs also provide a highly sensitive and selective fluorescence response to Hg2+. The peak fluorescence intensity linearly decreases with the increase of Hg2+ in the concentration range of 2.0 × 10−6–5.0 × 10−12 M with a detection limit of 1.7 × 10−12 M (S/N = 3). All metal and nonmetallic ions tested don’t interfere with the optical detection of Hg2+. The analytical method provides better sensitivity and selectivity compared with previously reported optical sensors for Hg2+, which has been successfully applied for the determination of Hg2+ in natural water samples.

Graphical abstract: Folic acid-functionalized graphene quantum dots with tunable fluorescence emission for cancer cell imaging and optical detection of Hg2+

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Publication details

The article was received on 20 Dec 2017, accepted on 01 Feb 2018 and first published on 01 Feb 2018


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7NJ05052F
Citation: New J. Chem., 2018,42, 4352-4360
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    Folic acid-functionalized graphene quantum dots with tunable fluorescence emission for cancer cell imaging and optical detection of Hg2+

    R. Li, X. Wang, Z. Li, H. Zhu and J. Liu, New J. Chem., 2018, 42, 4352
    DOI: 10.1039/C7NJ05052F

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