Microchimica Acta

, 185:539 | Cite as

Orange, yellow and blue luminescent carbon dots controlled by surface state for multicolor cellular imaging, light emission and illumination

  • Chang Liu
  • Ruijie Wang
  • Bin Wang
  • Zhiqin Deng
  • Yanzi Jin
  • Yuejun Kang
  • Jiucun ChenEmail author
Original Paper


Three kinds of carbon dots (CDs) with different photoluminescence (PL) (blue, yellow or orange) were synthesized by microwave heating. They display wavelength-independent excitation wavelengths (in the range from 444 to 574 nm), similar average particle size (from 3.7 to 4.2 nm), and fluorescence lifetimes (from 2.7 to 3.1 ns). Color and quantum yields (from 8 to 45% in ethanol) are related to the oxidation degree and the number of N-functional groups on their surface. The CDs are shown to be viable nanoprobes for multicolor imaging of cells. Three composite phosphors were obtained by coating the various CDs on starch particle. The resulting nanomaterials emit solid-state fluorescence with a quantum yield of ≥16%. They were used to fabricate luminescent blocks and light-emitting diodes with controllable color temperature.

Graphical abstract

(a) The synthesis process of the three carbon dots (CDs). The application in cell imaging (b), starch/CD phosphors (c), starch/CD phosphors-based luminescent blocks (d) and light-emitting diodes (e). (λex: excitation wavelength).


Isomers Microwave Wavelength-independent excitation Fluorescent lifetime Fluorescent mechanism Cell nucleus Solid-state fluorescence Composite phosphors Starch particle Light-emitting diodes 



We gratefully acknowledge to the financial support by the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2016 M602627), Chongqing Postdoctoral Science Special Foundation (Xm2016032), Transformative Project for Excellent Scientific and Technological Achievements in University (KJZH17108) and Special Program for Chongqing Social Business and People’s Livelihood Guarantee of Science and Technology (cstc2017shmsA30001).

Compliance with ethical standards

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

Supplementary material

604_2018_3072_MOESM1_ESM.docx (3.4 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 3.35 MB)


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Materials and EnergySouthwest UniversityChongqingChina
  2. 2.Chongqing Engineering Research Centre for Micro-Nano Biomedical Materials and DevicesChongqingChina
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Luminescent and Real-Time Analytical Chemistry (Southwest University), Ministry of Education, College of Pharmaceutical ScienceSouthwest UniversityChongqingChina

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