Principles, mechanisms, and application of carbon quantum dots in sensors: a review
Carbon quantum dots (CQDs) as an emerging class of quantum dots (QDs) with advantages such as good photoluminescence (PL) properties, easy synthesis routes, economical synthesis, cheap starting materials, water-solubility, low levels of toxicity, chemical stability, and easy functionalization have received great attention during recent years. CQDs have been used in versatile sensor applications. CQD sensors could be ultimately sensitive, and the limit of detection (LOD) for these sensors can reach the nanomolar, picomolar or even femtomolar ranges. CQD-based sensors and biosensors work with different mechanisms including fluorescence quenching, static quenching, dynamic quenching, energy transfer, inner filter effect (IFE), photo-induced electron transfer (PET), and fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET). CQD-based sensors and biosensors have been applied for the detection of different species such as metal ions, acids, proteins, biothiols, polypeptides, DNA and miRNA, water pollutants, hematin, drugs, vitamins, and other chemicals. It seems that CQD-based sensors and biosensors are promising candidates for high performance and yet accurate sensors in different areas. In this review, CQDs are introduced, and the synthesis methods and optical properties of CQDs are discussed. Different types of CQD-based sensors and biosensors and their working mechanisms are clarified.