A green heterogeneous synthesis of N-doped carbon dots and their photoluminescence applications in solid and aqueous states†
Compared with traditional semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) and organic dyes, photoluminescent carbon dots (CDs) are superior because of their high aqueous solubility, robust chemical inertness, facile functionalization, high resistance to photobleaching, low toxicity and good biocompatibility. Herein, a green, large-scale and high-output heterogeneous synthesis of N-doped CDs was developed by reacting calcium citrate and urea under microwave irradiation without the use of any capping agents. The obtained N-doped CDs with a uniform size distribution exhibit good aqueous solubility and yellowish-green fluorescence in the solid and aqueous states. These unique luminescence properties of N-doped CDs inspire new thoughts for applications as fluorescent powders, fluorescent inks, the growth of fluorescent bean sprouts, and fingerprint detection tools.