A simple and ubiquitous device for picric acid detection in latent fingerprints using carbon dots†
This work addresses the synthetic optimization of carbon dots (CDs) and their application in sensing picric acid from latent fingerprints by exploiting a smartphone-based RGB tool. The optimization of the synthesis of CDs is investigated towards achieving shorter reaction time, better product yield and fluorescence quantum efficiency. Precursors such as citric acid and thiourea were chosen for the synthesis of CDs. Among the various synthetic methodologies, it is found that the pyrolysis method offers ∼50% product yield within 15 min. The morphology and optical properties of the prepared CDs are characterized using the typical microscopic and spectroscopic techniques, respectively. The synthesized CDs exhibit quasi-spherical shape with an average particle size of 1.7 nm. The excitation dependent emissive properties of CDs are investigated by time resolved fluorescence spectroscopy. Furthermore, the excellent fluorescence properties (ϕ = 11%) of CDs are explored as a fluorescent fingerprint powder for the identification of latent fingerprints on various substrates. In addition, the presence of picric acid in latent fingerprints was detected. Furthermore, this study is extended to perform real time detection of fingerprints and harmful contaminants in fingerprints by utilizing a smartphone-based RGB color analysis tool. Based on these investigations, the prepared CDs could be a prospective fluorescent material in the field of forensics.