Novel properties and applications of carbon nanodots
In the most recent decade, carbon dots have drawn intensive attention and triggered substantial investigation. Carbon dots manifest superior merits, including excellent biocompatibility both in vitro and in vivo, resistance to photobleaching, easy surface functionalization and bio-conjugation, outstanding colloidal stability, eco-friendly synthesis, and low cost. All of these endow them with the great potential to replace conventional unsatisfactory fluorescent heavy metal-containing semiconductor quantum dots or organic dyes. Even though the understanding of their photoluminescence mechanism is still controversial, carbon dots have already exhibited many versatile applications. In this article, we summarize and review the recent progress achieved in the field of carbon dots, and provide a comprehensive summary and discussion on their synthesis methods and emission mechanisms. We also present the applications of carbon dots in bioimaging, drug delivery, microfluidics, light emitting diode (LED), sensing, logic gates, and chiral photonics, etc. Some unaddressed issues, challenges, and future prospects of carbon dots are also discussed. We envision that carbon dots will eventually have great commercial utilization and will become a strong competitor to some currently used fluorescent materials. It is our hope that this review will provide insights into both the fundamental research and practical applications of carbon dots.