Facile synthesis of S, N co-doped carbon dots and investigation of their photoluminescence properties†
A facile one-pot approach to prepare photoluminescent carbon dots (CDs) was developed through hydrothermal treatment of cysteine and citric acid. The obtained CDs show stable and bright blue emission with a quantum yield of 54% and an average lifetime of 11.61 ns. Moreover, the two-photon induced upconversion fluorescence of the CDs was observed and demonstrated. Interestingly, both down and up conversion fluorescence of the CDs show excitation-independent emission, which is quite different from most of the previously reported CDs. Ultrafast spectroscopy was also employed here to study the photoluminescence (PL) properties of the CDs. After characterization using various spectroscopic techniques, a unique PL mechanism for the as-prepared CDs’ fluorescence was proposed accordingly. In addition, the influence of various metal ions on the CD fluorescence was examined and no quenching phenomena were observed. Meanwhile, gold nanoparticles (Au NPs) were found to be good quenchers of CD fluorescence and their quenching behavior was fitted to the Stern–Volmer equation. This provides new opportunities for fluorescence sensor designs and light energy conversion applications. Finally, the as-prepared CDs were inkjet-printed to form a desirable pattern, which is useful for fluorescent patterns, and anti-counterfeiting labeling.