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One-step synthesis of carbon dots for selective bacterial inactivation and bacterial differentiation


Novel carbon dots (CDs) were synthesized by a one-pot hydrothermal approach using ampicillin as a precursor, and the as-prepared CDs exhibited a high quantum yield (23%). The CDs were found to possess abundant surface functional groups, thus providing good permeability to the cell, and the antibacterial activity of CDs was evaluated. S. aureus and L. monocytogenes were selected as model bacteria, and our results showed that the CDs exhibited antibacterial activity against S. aureus and L. monocytogenes under visible light illumination, even at low concentrations. The antibacterial mechanism is believed to be the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) from CDs under visible light irradiation, which attacked the bacterial cell membranes, resulting in the death of the bacteria. In addition, because of the multicolor fluorescence properties of CDs, staining of S. aureus and L. monocytogenes obtained multicolor fluorescence images at different excitation wavelengths. Based on these results, CDs are a promising candidate material for biological applications.

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This work was strongly supported by the Analysis and Testing Foundation of Kunming University of Science and Technology (2018 M20172118081).

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Correspondence to Yaling Yang.

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Gao, Z., Yang, D., Wan, Y. et al. One-step synthesis of carbon dots for selective bacterial inactivation and bacterial differentiation. Anal Bioanal Chem 412, 871–880 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00216-019-02293-0

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  • CDs
  • Photocatalytic
  • Antibacterial
  • Multicolor fluorescence