Dual-emitting quantum dot nanohybrid for imaging of latent fingerprints: simultaneous identification of individuals and traffic light-type visualization of TNT†
Fingerprints are a unique characteristic of an individual. Recently, it has been realized that fingerprints carry more information about individuals than just their identity, for example, they may identify potential addicts and terrorists carrying explosives. Therefore, the development of imaging moieties capable of both fingerprint staining and drug/explosive visualization is of significant importance for forensic chemistry. Here we developed a nanohybrid comprising green- and red-emitting QDs for simultaneous fingerprint imaging and TNT visualization in fingerprints. The red-emitting Cu-doped ZnCdS (Cu–ZnCdS) QDs were embedded into silica nanoparticles and the green-emitting ZnCdS QDs were anchored onto the surface of the silica nanoparticles and further functionalized with polyallylamine (PAA). Both components of the nanohybrid, i.e., the PAA-functionalized green QDs and red QD-doped silica nanoparticles, could be explored for fingerprint imaging. Due to the formation of a Meisenheimer complex between TNT and PAA, the green-emitting QDs could be quenched by TNT, meanwhile the red-emitting QDs were inert. Therefore, the nanohybrid exhibited a traffic light-type fluorescence color change (green-yellow-red) to TNT concentration in the range of 40–400 μM. This method is promising for potential applications in security-screening needs in public areas such as airports and train stations.