Nitrogen-doped carbon dots embedded in a SiO2 monolith for solid-state fluorescent detection of Cu2+ ions

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We describe the simple fabrication of SiO2 sol-gel monoliths embedding highly luminescent carbon nanodots (CDs) sensitive to metal ions. The pristine CDs we synthesize display an intense dual emission consisting in two fluorescence bands in the green and violet region, and we demonstrate that this photoluminescence is substantially unchanged when the dots are incorporated in the SiO2 matrix. The emission of these CDs is quenched by interactions with Cu2+ ions, which can be used to detect these ions with a detection limit of 1 μM. The chromophores remain accessible to diffusing Cu2+ ions even after embedding CDs in the sol-gel monolith, where their detection capabilities are preserved. Such a result provides the proof-of-principle of a new sensing scheme, where CDs are exploited as active sensing centers of metal transition ions within a solid-state device. The different interaction mechanisms of CDs with copper, in liquid and solid phase, are analyzed in detail and discussed in terms of different accessibility of their chromophores when the dots are incorporated in the SiO2 matrix.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Nanoparticle Research
Publication statusPublished - 2017


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics

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