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

Abstract

The introduction of functional molecules may drastically alter the optical and electronic characteristics of graphene quantum dots, thus leading to unusual properties and related applications. The study reports the synthesis of folic acid-functionalized graphene quantum dots (FA-GQDs) via the thermal pyrolysis of maleic acid (MA) and folic acid (FA). The study reveals that the as-prepared FA-GQDs display a strong and tunable fluorescence emission under visible light excitation. Its fluorescence emission depends on the ratio of FA/MA for the synthesis of FA-GQDs and the corresponding excitation wavelength. Because FA was covalently anchored to the edge of graphene sheets, the FA-GQDs can be used as a turn-on fluorescent nanoprobe for folate receptor-positive cancer cells. The uptake of designed FA-GQDs by HepG2 cancer cells was verified by confocal laser scanning microscopy. The FA-GQDs also provides highly sensitive and selective fluorescence response towards Hg2+. Its peak fluorescence intensity will linearly decrease with the increase of Hg2+ concentration in the range of 2.0×10-6-5.0×10-12 M with the detection limit of 1.7×10-12 M (S/N=3). All metal and nonmetallic ions tested does not interfere with optical detection of Hg2+. The sensitivity and selectivity is much better than that of reported optical sensors for Hg2+. The analytical method has been successfully applied to the determination of Hg2+ in water samples.

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Supplementary files

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, Accepted Manuscript
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    Folic acid-functionalized graphene quantum dots with a tunable fluorescence emission for cancer cell imaging and optical detection of Hg2+

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

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