Sulfur doped carbon nitride quantum dots with efficient fluorescent property and their application for bioimaging

  • Xiaohui Dai
  • Zhenwei Han
  • Hai FanEmail author
  • Shiyun AiEmail author
Research Paper


Heteroatom doping can drastically alter electronic characteristics of carbon nitride quantum dots, thus resulting in unusual properties and related applications. Herein, we used sulfur as the doping element and investigated the influence of doping on the electronic distribution of carbon nitride and the corresponding fluorescent property. A simple synthetic strategy was applied to prepare sulfur-doped carbon nitride (S-g-C3N4) quantum dots through ultrasonic treatment of bulk S-g-C3N4. Characterization results demonstrated that the prepared S-g-C3N4 quantum dots with an average size of 2.0 nm were successfully prepared. Fluorescent properties indicated that S-g-C3N4 quantum dots have an emission peak at 460 nm and cover the emission spectra region up to 550 nm. Furthermore, the fluorescent intensity is greatly increased due to the sonication of bulk S-g-C3N4 into quantum dots. As a result, S-g-C3N4 quantum dots not only show a blue cell imaging, but have a bright green color. Therefore, S-g-C3N4 quantum dot is a promising candidate for bioimaging benefiting from the efficient fluorescent property, good biocompatibility, and low toxicity.


Doped carbon nitride Quantum dots Fluorescent property Bioimaging In vitro cytotoxicity 


Funding information

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NO. 21375079, NO. 51402175) and Project of Development of Science and Technology of Shandong Province, China (NO. 2013GZX20109).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Baker S, Baker G (2010) Luminescent carbon nanodots: emergent nanolights. Angew Chem Int Ed 49(38):6726–6744. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barman S, Sadhukhan M (2012) Facile bulk production of highly blue fluorescent graphitic carbon nitride quantum dots and their application as highly selective and sensitive sensors for the detection of mercuric and iodide ions in aqueous media. J Mater Chem 22(41):21832–21837. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chen L, Huang D, Ren S, Dong T, Chi Y, Chen G (2013) Preparation of graphite-like carbon nitride nanoflake film with strong fluorescent and electrochemiluminescent activity. Nanoscale 5(1):225–230. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Choi HS, Liu W, Misra P, Tanaka E, Zimmer JP, Ipe BI, Bawendi MG, Frangioni JV (2007) Renal clearance of quantum dots. Nat Biotechnol 25(10):1165–1170. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cui Q, Xu J, Wang X, Li L, Antonietti M, Shalom M (2016) Phenyl-modified carbon nitride quantum dots with distinct photoluminescence behavior. Angew Chem Int Ed 55(11):3672–3676. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fan H, Zhang SX, Ju P, Su HC, Ai SY (2012) Flower-like Bi2Se3 nanostructures: synthesis and their application for the direct electrochemistry of hemoglobin and H2O2 detection. Electrochim Acta 64:171–176. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gu YP, Cui R, Zhang ZL, Xie ZX, Pang DW (2011) Ultrasmall near-infrared Ag2Se quantum dots with tunable fluorescence for in vivo imaging. J Am Chem Soc 134(1):79–82. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Guo S, Deng Z, Li M, Jiang B, Tian C, Pan Q, Fu H (2016) Phosphorus-doped carbon nitride tubes with a layered micro-nanostructure for enhanced visible-light photocatalytic hydrogen evolution. Angew Chem Int Ed 55(5):1830–1834. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Guo J, Lin Y, Huang H, Zhang S, Huang T, Weng W (2017) One-pot fabrication of fluorescent carbon nitride nanoparticles with high crystallinity as a highly selective and sensitive sensor for free chlorine. Sens Actuators B: Chem 244:965–971. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Li H, Kang Z, Liu Y, Lee ST (2012) Carbon nanodots: synthesis, properties and applications. J Mater Chem 22(46):24230–24253. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Li H, Shao FQ, Huang H, Feng JJ, Wang AJ (2016) Eco-friendly and rapid microwave synthesis of green fluorescent graphitic carbon nitride quantum dots for vitro bioimaging. Sens Actuators B: Chem 226:506–511. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Li Z, Tian B, Zhang W, Zhang X, Wu Y, Lu G (2017) Enhancing photoactivity for hydrogen generation by electron tunneling via flip-flop hopping over iodinated graphitic carbon nitride. Appl Catal B Environ 204:33–42. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Liu S, Tian J, Wang L, Luo Y, Zhai J, Sun X (2011) Preparation of photoluminescent carbon nitride dots from CCl4 and 1, 2-ethylenediamine: a heat-treatment-based strategy. J Mater Chem 21(32):11726–11729. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lu YC, Chen J, Wang AJ, Bao N, Feng JJ, Wang W, Shao L (2015) Facile synthesis of oxygen and sulfur co-doped graphitic carbon nitride fluorescent quantum dots and their application for mercury (II) detection and bioimaging. J Mater Chem C 3(1):73–78. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Shen J, Zhu Y, Yang X, Li C (2012) Graphene quantum dots: emergent nanolights for bioimaging, sensors, catalysis and photovoltaic devices. Chem Commun 48(31):3686–3699. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Wang X, Maeda X, Chen X, Takanabe K, Domen K, Hou Y, Fu XZ, Antonietti M (2009) Polymer semiconductors for artificial photosynthesis: hydrogen evolution by mesoporous graphitic carbon nitride with visible light. J Am Chem Soc 131(5):1680–1681. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Wang N, Fan H, Sun J, Han Z, Dong J, Ai S (2016) Fluorine-doped carbon nitride quantum dots: ethylene glycol-assisted synthesis, fluorescent properties, and their application for bacterial imaging. Carbon 109:141–148. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Zhang Y, Li Y, Yan XP (2009) Aqueous layer-by-layer epitaxy of type-II CdTe/CdSe quantum dots with near-infrared fluorescence for bioimaging applications. Small 5(2):185–189. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Zhang X, Xie X, Wang H, Zhang J, Pan B, Xie Y (2013) Enhanced photoresponsive ultrathin graphitic-phase C3N4 nanosheets for bioimaging. J Am Chem Soc 135(1):18–21. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Zhang G, Zhang M, Ye X, Qiu X, Lin S, Wang X (2014) Iodine modified carbon nitride semiconductors as visible light photocatalysts for hydrogen evolution. Adv Mater 26(5):805–809. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Zhou J, Yang Y, Zhang C (2013) A low-temperature solid-phase method to synthesize highly fluorescent carbon nitride dots with tunable emission. Chem Commun 49(77):8605–8607. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Zimmer JP, Sang-Wook K, Shunsuke O, Eichii K, Frangioni JV, Bawendi MG (2006) Size series of small indium arsenide-zinc selenide core-shell nanocrystals and their application to in vivo imaging. J Am Chem Soc 12(8):2526–2527. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Chemistry and Material ScienceShandong Agricultural UniversityTai’anPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations