Microchimica Acta

, 186:87 | Cite as

Tannic acid-derivatized graphitic carbon nitride quantum dots as an “on-off-on” fluorescent nanoprobe for ascorbic acid via copper(II) mediation

  • Ojodomo J. AchaduEmail author
  • Neerish RevaprasaduEmail author
Original Paper


A microwave-assisted hydrothermal route was employed to prepare fluorescent tannic acid (TA)-derivatized graphitic carbon nitride quantum dots. The resulting dots display blue fluorescence (best measured at excitation/emission wavelengths of 350/452 nm) with a quantum yield as high as ~44%. The incorporated TA imparts a fluorescence switching behavior in that very low concentrations of Cu(II) can quench the fluorescence, while (AA) can restore it. It is presumed that AA causes Cu(II) to be transformed to Cu(I). Based on these findings, a fluorometric method was designed for AA detection. The probe allows AA to be detected with a 50 pM limit of detection and a linear analytical range that extends from 0.1 to 200 nM of AA. Real and spiked samples were successfully assayed by the probe to demonstrate its analytical applicability.

Graphical abstract

Schematic presentation of fluorescent graphitic carbon nitride quantum dots functionalized with tannic acid. Their fluorescence is quenched by Cu2+ and recovered by ascorbic acid (AA). This is exploited in an assay with a picomolar detection limit.


Graphitic nanosheets Quantum dots Fluorescence recovery Optical probe Polyphenolic compounds Biomolecules Metal ions 



The authors wish to acknowledge funding from National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa through the South African Research Chair Initiative (SARCHI) in Nanotechnology. OJA thanks the National Research Foundation (NRF) for a postdoctoral fellowship and funding under SA Research Chair for Nanotechnology.

Compliance with ethical standards

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

604_2018_3203_MOESM1_ESM.docx (309 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 309 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ChemistryUniversity of ZululandKwaDlangezwaSouth Africa

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