Milk produces nitrogen-doped carbon dots in a simple, green process

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  • Published: Sep 11, 2014
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: UV/Vis Spectroscopy

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Carbon dots that are doped with nitrogen have been produced in a totally green way by heating up milk, the dopant coming from the natural constituents that are present. The new process was described by Susan Zhou and Li Wang from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, MA, providing luminescent carbon dots that can be used in a wide range of applications such has optoelectronic devices, biosensors, catalysts and biological labels.

UV, FTIR and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy confirmed the structures of the dots which required no further treatment. Their photoluminesence quantum yield is about 12%, far higher than many other known carbon dots.

They were added to human brain glioma tumour cells and behaved as fluorescent probes, being taken up by the cells without harming them, illustrating their usefulness in bioimaging applications.

Such a simple, one-step method that produces carbon dots about 3 nm in size from milk, an almost unlimited starting material, could revolutionise their production and make them even more readily available.

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