Microchimica Acta

, 186:18 | Cite as

Water-dispersed fluorescent silicon nanodots as probes for fluorometric determination of picric acid via energy transfer

  • Wenjing QiEmail author
  • Hongkun He
  • Yuling Fu
  • Maoyu Zhao
  • Lin Qi
  • Lianzhe Hu
  • Chun Liu
  • Rong Li
Original Paper


Water-dispersed fluorescent silicon nanodots (SiNDs) were synthesized by a one-pot hydrothermal method starting from tetraethyl orthosilicate (TEOS) as silicon source and trisodium citrate as reducing reagent. The method is simple and convenient. The SiNDs, with excitation/emission peaks at 347/440 nm and with fluorescence quantum yield of 18% are shown to be viable fluorescent probes for picric acid (PA). The SiNDs strongly bind PA, and their blue fluorescence is quenched. The distance between the donor and acceptor (R0 value) is calculated from fluorescence data to be 2.1 nm. A fluorometric method was worked out that has a linear response in the 8 nM to 50 μM PA concentration range and a 0.92 nM limit of detection. The method has a fast response (2 min) and is well selective over other nitroaromatic compounds and metal ions. The average recoveries from spiked lake water samples ranged between 98.4 and 100.8%.

Graphical abstract

Water-dispersed fluorescent silicon nanodots (SiNDs) are synthesized using tetraethyl orthosilicate (TEOS) and trisodium citrate. Based on spectral overlap of fluorescent spectrum of SiNDs and absorption spectrum of picric acid (PA), fluorometric determination of PA at concentrations as low as 0.92 nM is achieved.


Picric acid (PA) Tetraethyl orthosilicate (TEOS) Hydrothermal strategy Nitroaromatic compounds Fluorometric determination 



This project was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 21505011), Chongqing Research Program of Basic Research and Frontier Technology (No. cstc2018jcyjAX0742), Key Lab of Process Analysis and Control of Sichuan Universities (No. 2017003) and Program for Top-Notch Young Innovative Talents of Chongqing Normal University (No. 02030307-00042).

Compliance with ethical standards

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

Supplementary material

604_2018_3135_MOESM1_ESM.doc (1.5 mb)
ESM 1 Supplementary data including the reaction temperature, reaction time and the amount of TEOS on the synthesis of the fluorescent SiNDs, normalized UV-Vis absorption spectrum of PA and fluorescent spectrum of the fluorescent SiNDs, the effect of temperature on PA detection, fluorescent lifetime and recovery results are free available on the website (DOC 1.50 mb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chongqing Key Laboratory of Green Synthesis and Applications, College of ChemistryChongqing Normal UniversityChongqingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Huize Cigarette Factory, HongyunHonghe Tabacco (Group) Co., Ltd.ChongqingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Key Lab of Process Analysis and Control of Sichuan UniversitiesYibin UniversityChongqingPeople’s Republic of China

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