Synthesis of N-doped carbon dots and application in vanillin detection based on collisional quenching†
N-doped carbon dots (NCDs) exhibit bright blue emissions and have been used as viable fluorescent probes in the turn-off fluorometric assay for vanillin detection. NCDs were prepared from glucose and tyrosine using a facile and green synthesis process. The one-pot hydrothermal treatment was used without any strong acid or oxidant. The fluorescence of NCDs (with excitation/emission peaks at 323/416 nm, respectively) can be quenched by vanillin. The quenching mechanism belongs to the dynamic quenching mode due to the molecular collisions of the ground state of vanillin and the excited state of NCDs. This turn-off system could be utilized to quantify vanillin within a linear range of 0.43–264 μM. The limit of detection was 0.10 μM. Moreover, this approach was successfully applied toward the determination of vanillin in food samples.