Acetone-derived luminescent polymer dots: a facile and low-cost synthesis leads to remarkable photophysical properties†
Carbon-based dots have been attracting much attention as potentially superior alternatives to more conventional semiconductor nanoparticles, due to their fascinating optical properties, chemical and photochemical stability, unique environmental-friendliness, and the versatility of fabrication routes. Many commercial materials and organic compounds have been considered so far as carbon precursors but in many cases the fabrication required high-temperature conditions or led to inhomogeneous final products. Here we report on a simple low-cost synthesis of non-conjugated carbon-rich polymer dots (PDs) that uses acetone as carbon precursor. Both hydrophilic and hydrophobic fractions of PDs were obtained, with the respective average diameters of 2–4 nm and ca. 6 nm. The as-obtained PDs reveal greenish-blue photoluminescence (PL) and high quantum yields (∼5–7%) and complex kinetics of the decays with the average lifetime of ∼3.5 ns. Such luminescent acetone-derived PDs may find application in several fields, including sensing and bioimaging.