Journal of Materials Science

, Volume 53, Issue 9, pp 6459–6470 | Cite as

Fluorescent carbon dots with two absorption bands: luminescence mechanism and ion detection

  • Zhibiao Feng
  • Zeliang Li
  • Xingwei Zhang
  • Guoqiang Xu
  • Nan Zhou
Chemical routes to materials


Herein, we report the synthesis of carbon dots (CDs) with two characterized absorption bands but without excitation wavelength-dependent fluorescence via a one-step hydrothermal method. The structure of CDs was characterized using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, high-resolution transmission electron microscopy, Fourier transform infrared, and UV–Vis spectroscopy. The structure and photoluminescence of CDs vary significantly with different raw materials and preparation methods, and the mechanism of luminescence is not clear yet. Hence, we studied the luminescence mechanism behind two characterized absorption bands of CDs using fluorescence quenching method with ninhydrin and several ions as quenchers. The influence of the surface groups of CDs on its photoluminescence properties was also discussed. Ninhydrin and a variety of other ions exhibited different quenching effects on the fluorescence emissions which obtained at the two absorption bands of CDs. Combining with the structure characterization results, it can be concluded that the emission wavelength is mainly determined by the carbon core, while the excitation wavelength is determined by the surface nitrogen-containing groups. (The excitation at 234 nm might be due to the Schiff base structure, while the excitation at 345 nm was mainly due to the amide structure.) Furthermore, based on the interaction of NO2 with the surface nitrogen-containing groups of CDs, a quantitative detection method of NO2 using CDs was proposed in our study. CDs exhibited high selectivity for NO2 at pH 1.6 with good linearity to NO2 concentration in the range of 1–10 μM.



The authors would like to express their sincere thanks to the Analytical and Testing Centre of Northeast Agricultural University.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ChemistryNortheast Agricultural UniversityHarbinChina

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