Journal of Materials Science

, Volume 54, Issue 8, pp 6140–6150 | Cite as

Mechanism insights into tunable photoluminescence of carbon dots by hydroxyl radicals

  • Ji Yue
  • Kui ZhangEmail author
  • Huan Yu
  • Long Yu
  • Tianxin Hou
  • Xinfeng Chen
  • Hongwei Ge
  • Tasawar Hayat
  • Ahmed Alsaedi
  • Suhua WangEmail author
Chemical routes to materials


As new luminescent nanomaterials, carbon dots have superior properties regarding their multi-color emission, chemical stability and biocompatibility, which are important for potential biological and medicine applications. Tuning the photoluminescence of carbon dots using hydroxyl radical through fast chemical reaction can be a simple and cost-effective method to modify their optical properties. Carbon dots of red fluorescence (r-CDs) were first prepared from phenylenediamines by a solvothermal method and subsequently treated with hydroxyl radicals or tert-butyl peroxyl radicals to generate carbon dots with new emission properties. Instead, other reactive oxygen such as singlet oxygen and hypochlorite could mainly quench the fluorescence of the r-CDs. With further investigation, it was found that these oxygen radicals played roles like chemical scissors cutting the surface chain groups of r-CDs to smaller-sized CDs, resulting in blueshift of emission. These findings may be helpful to investigate the mechanism relating to fluorescence properties of carbon dots, and it also provides a new method to control the emission of carbon dots through simple chemical treatment.



The work was financially supported from the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2017YFA0207003), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (21475134, 21507135, 21675158 and 21775042) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (2016ZZD06).

Supplementary material

10853_2018_3254_MOESM1_ESM.docx (3.4 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 3477 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MOE Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental System Optimization, College of Environmental Science and EngineeringNorth China Electric Power UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.School of Chemistry and Chemical EngineeringAnhui University of TechnologyMa’anshanChina
  3. 3.Institute of Intelligent MachinesChinese Academy of SciencesHefeiChina
  4. 4.NAAM Research GroupKing Abdulaziz UniversityJeddahSaudi Arabia

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