Carbon Nanodots for Charge-Transfer Processes

Journal article

Publication Details

Author(s): Cadranel A, Margraf JT, Strauss V, Clark T, Guldi DM
Journal: Accounts of Chemical Research
Publication year: 2019
Volume: 52
Journal issue: 4
Pages range: 955-963
ISSN: 0001-4842
eISSN: 1520-4898


ConspectusIn recent years, carbon nanodots (CNDs) have emerged as an environmentally friendly, biocompatible, and inexpensive class of material, whose features sparked interest for a wide range of applications. Most notable is their photoactivity, as exemplified by their strong luminescence. Consequently, CNDs are currently being investigated as active components in photocatalysis, sensing, and optoelectronics. Charge-transfer interactions are common to all these areas. It is therefore essential to be able to fine-tune both the electronic structure of CNDs and the electronic communication in CND-based functional materials.The complex, but not completely deciphered, structure of CNDs necessitates, however, a multifaceted strategy to investigate their fundamental electronic structure and to establish structure-property relationships. Such investigations require a combination of spectroscopic methods, such as ultrafast transient absorption and fluorescence up-conversion techniques, electrochemistry, and modeling of CNDs, both in the absence and presence of other photoactive materials. Only a sound understanding of the dynamics of charge transfer, charge shift, charge transport, etc., with and without light makes much-needed improvements in, for example, photocatalytic processes, in which CNDs are used as either photosensitizers or catalytic centers, possible.This Account addresses the structural, photophysical, and electrochemical properties of CNDs, in general, and the charge-transfer chemistry of CNDs, in particular. Pressure-synthesized CNDs (pCNDs), for which citric acid and urea are used as inexpensive and biobased precursor materials, lie at the center of attention. A simple microwave-assisted thermolytic reaction, performed in sealed vessels, yields pCNDs with a fairly homogeneous size distribution of ∼1-2 nm. The narrow and excitation-independent photoluminescence of pCNDs contrasts with that seen in CNDs synthesized by other techniques, making pCNDs optimal for in-depth physicochemical analyses. The atomistic and electronic structures of CNDs were also analyzed by quantum chemical modeling approaches that led to a range of possible structures, ranging from heavily functionalized, graphene-like structures to disordered amorphous particles containing small sp
domains.Both the electron-accepting and -donating performances of CNDs make the charge-transfer chemistry of CNDs rather versatile. Both covalent and noncovalent synthetic approaches have been explored, resulting in architectures of various sizes. CNDs, for example, have been combined with molecular materials ranging from electron-donating porphyrins and extended tetrathiafulvalenes to electron-accepting perylendiimides, or nanocarbon materials such as polymer-wrapped single-walled carbon nanotubes. In every case, charge-separated states formed as part of the reaction cascades initiated by photoexcitation. Charge-transfer assemblies including CNDs have also played a role in technological applications: for example, a proof-of-concept dye-sensitized solar cell was designed and tested, in which CNDs were adsorbed on the surface of mesoporous anatase TiO
. The wide range of reported electron-donor-acceptor systems documents the versatility of CNDs as molecular building blocks, whose electronic properties are tunable for the needs of emerging technologies.

FAU Authors / FAU Editors

Clark, Timothy apl. Prof. Dr.
Guldi, Dirk Michael Prof. Dr.
Lehrstuhl für Physikalische Chemie I

External institutions with authors

Max-Planck-Institut für Kolloid- und Grenzflächenforschung / Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces
Technische Universität München (TUM)
Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA) / University of Buenos Aires

How to cite

Cadranel, A., Margraf, J.T., Strauss, V., Clark, T., & Guldi, D.M. (2019). Carbon Nanodots for Charge-Transfer Processes. Accounts of Chemical Research, 52(4), 955-963.

Cadranel, Alejandro, et al. "Carbon Nanodots for Charge-Transfer Processes." Accounts of Chemical Research 52.4 (2019): 955-963.


Last updated on 2019-06-08 at 09:07