Solvothermal synthesis of phosphorus and nitrogen doped carbon quantum dots as a fluorescent probe for iron(III)


Carbon quantum dots (CQDs) doped with phosphorus and nitrogen were prepared via a hydrothermal method starting from citric acid, urea and phosphoric acid in dimethylformamide solution. The size, morphology, surface composition, energy levels, and optical properties of the CQDs were characterized. They show both green down-conversion and up-conversion fluorescence. Ferric ions (Fe3+) are found to quench the fluorescence. Cyclic voltammetry was used to identify the HOMO and LUMO levels of the doped CQDs. The quenching mechanism, as confirmed by energy level calculations and absorption spectra, can be attributed to the selective coordination of Fe3+ by the surface functional groups on the CQDs. This facilitates the photo-induced electron transfer from the CQDs to the d orbitals of Fe3+. The CQDs are shown to be viable fluorescent probes for determination of Fe3+ with high selectivity and sensitivity. The assay has a linear response in the 0.1 μM to 0.9 μM Fe3+ concentration range and a 50 nM as limit of detection (at a S/N ratio of 3).

Fluorescence probe for determination of ferric ions based on carbon quantum dot quenching via chelation facilitate photo-electron transfer.

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The authors would like to thank the ministry of higher education and scientific research in Kurdistan for supporting this work.

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Correspondence to Khalid M. Omer.

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Omer, K.M., Tofiq, D.I. & Hassan, A.Q. Solvothermal synthesis of phosphorus and nitrogen doped carbon quantum dots as a fluorescent probe for iron(III). Microchim Acta 185, 466 (2018).

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  • Carbon quantum dots (CQDs)
  • Ferric ions
  • Phosphorus doping
  • Nitrogen doping
  • Fluorescent probe
  • Photo-electron transfer
  • Cyclic voltammetry