Fluorescent quantum dots derived from PEDOT and their applications in optical imaging and sensing†
We herein demonstrate a facile and general approach to synthesize novel polymer quantum dots (QDs) derived from non-fluorescent poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT). Such a PEDOT-QD is of molecular size and exhibits excellent photostability, two-photon excitation properties, and biocompatibility. Furthermore, we demonstrate the use of this new type of fluorescent reporter for cellular imaging and sensitive and specific optical detection of mercury ions. The synthetic route demonstrated here can be easily modified (e.g., using different polymer precursors, ionic liquids for polymerization, and solvents for exfoliation) to produce different types of polymer QDs with various interesting properties.