Carbon nanomaterials, which include carbon nanotubes, fullerenes and graphene, have generated much excitement for a wide variety of promising applications. As one of these, CDs are no different. Compared with more traditional metal-based semiconductor quantum dots, they have superior fluorescence properties with stable photoluminescence, good water stability and favourable biocompatibility. The exploration of alternative synthetic routes that broaden the application of these materials is therefore an interesting challenge.

Biomass benefits

As a typical biomass material, bagasse is a by-product of the cane-sugar industry and is composed of amine-group enriched molecules and carbohydrates. In this study, a more sustainable, inexpensive and greener synthesis approach to produce fluorescent CDs by the hydrothermal treatment of bagasse is presented for the first time. The carbonization, surface functionalization and doping occur simultaneously during the hydrothermal treatment, which leads to the formation of the nitrogen-doped CDs. Most importantly, the researchers further demonstrate the proof of concept that such CDs can function as highly effective fluorescent sensing probes for the labelling and imaging of living cells in biomedical applications.

The researchers presented their work in the journal Nanotechnology 25 315702.

Further reading

Graphene QDs on aligned carbon nanotubes ramp up supercapacitor performance (Jun 2013)
The art of colloidal quantum dots: micropatterning (Mar 2014)
Carbon nanotubes grown on graphene quantum dot assembly (July 2012)