Heavy carbon nanodots: a new phosphorescent carbon nanostructure†
Carbon nanodots are nanometer sized fluorescent particles studied for their distinct photoluminescent properties and biocompatibility. Although extensive literature reports the modification and application of carbon nanodot fluorescence, little has been published pertaining to phosphorescence emission from carbon nanodots. The use of phosphors in biological imaging can lead to clearer detection, as the long lifetimes of phosphorescent emission permit off-gated collection that avoids noise from biological autofluorescence. Carbon nanodots present a desirable scaffold for this application, with advantageous qualities ranging from photostability to multi-color emission. This research reports the generation of a novel phosphorescent “heavy carbon” nanodot via halogenation of the carbon nanodot structure. By employing a collection pathway that effectively incorporates bromine into the nanostructure, T1 triplet character is introduced, and subsequently phosphorescence is observed in liquid media at room temperature for the first time in the nanodot literature. Further experiments are reported characterizing the conditions of observed phosphorescence and its pH-dependence. Our approach for producing “heavy carbon nanodots” is a low-cost and relatively simple method for generating the phosphorescent nanodots, which sets the foundation for its potential future use as a phosphorescent probe in application.