Carbon dots isolated from chromatographic fractions for sensing applications

Lizhen Liu, Feng Feng*, Man Chin Paau, Qin Hu, Yang Liu, Zezhong Chen, Martin M F CHOI

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


A fast and easy approach to synthesise carbon dots (C-dots) by simply mixing acetic acid, N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC), water, and diphosphorus pentoxide has been developed. The synthesised C-dots sample has been found to be a relatively complex mixture, and its complexity can be reduced significantly by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). The separated C-dots fractions are collected and characterised by UV-vis absorption spectroscopy, photoluminescence (PL) spectroscopy, matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS), and transmission electron microscopy. The C-dots fractions display unique absorption bands and specific emission wavelengths which are fully anatomised by MALDI-TOF MS, displaying their fragmentation mass ion features. The core sizes of some selected C-dots are 2.51, 2.83, 2.90, 3.17, 3.39, and 3.44 nm, consistent with their HPLC elution order. The fractionated C-dots show profound differences in emission quantum yield, allowing the brighter C-dots to be isolated from an apparent low quantum yield mixture. These brighter C-dots fractions can be used as fluorescent probes for sensitive detection of Fe3+ and Hg2+.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106838-106847
Number of pages10
JournalRSC Advances
Issue number129
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2015

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)


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