Microchimica Acta

, 186:858 | Cite as

Sensor array based on single carbon quantum dot for fluorometric differentiation of all natural amino acids

  • Yang Gao
  • Fei Gao
  • Guolin ZhangEmail author
  • Lijiang Chen
  • Qiuhua Wu
  • Xue LiuEmail author
Original Paper


A sensor array is described that consists of a carbon quantum dot (CQD) and metal ions, including Hg2+, Cu2+, Fe3+, Ag+, Cd2+, and Pb2+. The CQDs display blue fluorescence with excitation/emission maxima at 370/440 nm. It is shown that the array can be applied to the determination of all natural amino acids (NAAs). Metal ions can quench the fluorescence of the CQDs, while NAAs can take metal ions away or co-bind to the CQD@metal-ion complex, which enhances or depresses the fluorescence of the CQDs. Based on the differential fluorescence variation, the CQD@metal-ion@NAA array exhibits a unique pattern for NAAs. Principal component analysis (PCA) and hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA) were carried out to generate visualized datagrams for NAA discrimination. The design and construction of the sensor array is convenient and economical. The sensor array can distinguish NAAs at a concentration of as low as 30 μM, and can distinguish NAAs into acidic, neutral and basic NAAs. Semi-quantitative assay of alanine and threonine was also realized. Based on the low limit of detection and multi-NAA detection capability, the array can differentiate healthy cases from acute leukemia, chronic leukemia and lymphoma by analyzing the NAA status of serum samples.

Graphical abstract

Schematic representation of a fluorometric (FL) sensor array based on single CQD (carbon quantum dot) interacting with metal ions for differentiating all NAAs (natural amino acids) into acidic, neutral and basic NAAs (ANs, NNs and BNs) through PCA (principle component analysis).


Fluorometric detection Indicator displacement analysis Principle component analysis Hierarchical cluster analysis Semi-quantitative assay Lymphoma diagnosis Leukemia diagnosis 



Carbon quantum dots


Natural amino acids



This work was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (51873085), Natural Science Foundation of Liaoning Province of China (20180510023 and 20180550947), Natural Science Foundation for Education Department of Liaoning Province of China (LYB201603) and Shenyang Municipal Program for the Top Young and Middle-aged Innovative Talents of Liaoning Province of China (RC170258).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

We declare that we have no financial and personal relationships with other people or organizations that can inappropriately influence our work, there is no professional or other personal interest of any nature or kind in any product, service and/or company that may be construed as influencing the position presented in, or the review of, the manuscript entitled, “Sensor array based on single carbon quantum dot for differentiating all natural amino acids”.

Supplementary material

604_2019_3864_MOESM1_ESM.doc (418 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 418 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Liaoning Province Key Laboratory for Green Synthesis and Preparative Chemistry of Advanced Materials, College of ChemistryLiaoning UniversityShenyangChina
  2. 2.College of PharmacyLiaoning UniversityShenyangChina

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