Investigation of phosphorous doping effects on polymeric carbon dots: Fluorescence, photostability, and environmental impact

Bo Zhi, Miranda J. Gallagher, Benjamin P. Frank, Taeyjuana Y. Lyons, Tian A. Qiu, Joseph Da, Arielle C. Mensch, Robert J. Hamers, Zeev Rosenzweig, D. Howard Fairbrother, Christy L. Haynes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


Carbon dots have arisen as a potential alternative to traditional quantum dots since they fluoresce but are synthesized from sustainably sourced green chemicals. Herein, fluorescent nitrogen-doped polymeric carbon dots (CDs) were synthesized by using citric acid (CA) or malic acid (MA) as carbon precursors and ethylenediamine as the nitrogen precursor. Additionally, phosphoric acid was used as a doping agent for each type of CDs to evaluate the impact of incorporating phosphorus into the nanoparticles. Thus, four kinds of doped CDs (N-doped or N, P co-doped) were obtained and named as CACDs, CA-P-CDs, MACDs, and MA-P-CDs. Quantum yield and fluorescence lifetime analysis indicate that phosphorus doping of up to c.a. 10 wt% does not induce a remarkable influence on CD photoluminescence. The photostability of the N, P co-doped MACDs (MA-P-CDs), however, was observed to increase compared to the N-doped MACDs under 350 nm UV (UV-B) exposure. Lastly, to assess the impact of this emerging nanoparticle on prokaryotes, the bacterial toxicity of these CDs was tested using Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 as a model microorganism. Interestingly, the CDs exhibited no toxicity in most cases, and in fact facilitated bacteria growth. Hence, this work suggests that CDs are potentially eco-friendly fluorescent materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)438-449
Number of pages12
StatePublished - Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Science Foundation Center for Chemical Innovation Program Grant No. CHE-1503408 under the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology. Parts of this work, including XPS and TEM characterization, were carried out in the Characterization Facility, University of Minnesota, which receives partial support from the MRSEC program. We would like to thank the Materials Characterization Facility at Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering for use of their facilities.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd

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