Microchimica Acta

, Volume 184, Issue 4, pp 1109–1116 | Cite as

Highly fluorescent carbon polymer dots prepared at room temperature, and their application as a fluorescent probe for determination and intracellular imaging of ferric ion

  • Jie Xia
  • Yu-Ting Zhuang
  • Yong-Liang YuEmail author
  • Jian-Hua WangEmail author
Original Paper


Carbon polymer dots (CPDs) were prepared by a one-pot aqueous synthetic route from ascorbic acid and diethylenetriamine at room-temperature. The CPDs under 350-nm excitation exhibit blue fluorescence peaking at 430 nm with a quantum yield of 47%. Other features include an average diameter of 5 nm, a fluorescence that is independent of the excitation wavelength, good water dispersibility and photostability, and excellent biocompatibility. The CPDs are shown to be viable fluorescent probes for ferric ion which acts as a strong quencher. The response to Fe(III) is linear in the 0.2 to 10 μM concentration range, and the detection limit is 0.1 μM. The probe was applied to the determination of Fe(III) in environmental waters and to intracellular imaging of ferric ions in HeLa cells.

Graphical abstract

Carbon polymer dots (CPDs) are prepared from ascorbic acid and diethylenetriamine (DETA) at room-temperature (RT). The RT-CPDs exhibit excellent optical performance, biocompatibility and selectivity of quenching by ferric ions. This can be applied for determination and intracellular imaging of ferric ion.


Quantum yield TEM XPS FTIR Formation mechanism Photoluminescence Stern-Volmer plot Tap water River water HeLa cells 



This work was financially supported by the Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 21475018 and 21235001), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (Grant No. N140505005 and N141008001).

Compliance with ethical standards

The author(s) declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

604_2017_2104_MOESM1_ESM.doc (2.6 mb)
ESM 1 (DOC 2672 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Center for Analytical Sciences, College of SciencesNortheastern UniversityShenyangChina

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