Carbon dots as photocatalysts for organic synthesis: metal-free methylene–oxygen-bond photocleavage†
We report for the first time that irradiation of four different citric acid-derived carbon dots (CDs), in the absence of any other redox mediators, promotes an organic reaction. In this proof-of-concept study methylene-oxygen bond reductive photocleavage in N-methyl-4-picolinium esters is demonstrated. Cyclic voltammetry and UV-Vis spectra of the CDs and of the esters indicate that photocleavage reactivity correlates with the redox properties and the relative energies expressed in the Fermi scale. A photo-fragmentation mechanism is proposed. This study offers a new possibility to employ inexpensive and readily available CDs to promote photo-organic reactions.