Green synthesis of up- and down-conversion photoluminescent carbon dots from coffee beans for Fe3+ detection and cell imaging†
Carbon dots (CDs) are a developing stable, conductive, and environmentally friendly fluorescent nanomaterial with potential applications in biomedicine and sensing. In this study, CDs with up- and down-conversion photoluminescence characteristics were prepared via a one-pot hydrothermal method using coffee beans as the sole raw material. Fourier transform infrared spectra and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy showed the presence of nitrogen and oxygen functional groups on the CDs surfaces. Transmission electron microscopy showed that the CDs were spherical with an average size of 4.6 nm. The CDs precursor and synthesis process are environmentally benign, and the resulting CDs exhibit excellent photostability, reversible fluorescence response to temperature, and good ionic-strength tolerance. Moreover, these CDs can be used as efficient fluorescence probes in selective and sensitive Fe3+ detection by a dual-readout assay. The down- and up-conversion fluorescence measurements from the CDs were in the linear range for 0–0.10 mM Fe3+ with the detection limits of 15.4 and 16.3 nM, respectively. Furthermore, the CDs were successfully applied to intracellular sensing and imaging Fe3+ ions, indicating their potential use in bioscience applications.