Well-separated water-soluble carbon dots via gradient chromatography

Michaud V, Pracht J, Schilfarth F, Damm C, Platzer B, Haines P, Harreiß C, Guldi DM, Spiecker E, Peukert W (2021)

Publication Language: English

Publication Status: Published

Publication Type: Journal article, Original article

Publication year: 2021



DOI: 10.1039/d1nr02562g


Carbon dots (CDs) are strongly fluorescent advanced materials that are promising for applications in bio-imaging, sensors or luminescent displays. One of the most-widely used class of CDs is synthesized via an aqueous, bottom-up technique starting from citric acid (CA) and an amino-precursor. Very high fluorescence quantum yields (QY) are reported for the resulting CDs. The as-synthesized raw suspensions, however, are crude mixtures of many components: bare carbon cores, carbon cores functionalized with fluorophores, freely floating molecular fluorophores, and several other by-products. In this study, we synthesized CDs from CA and amino acid cysteine (Cys) hydrothermally and demonstrate a complete separation of all components by means of two step gradient chromatography. In the first step, the separation was carried out on a normal-pressure preparative silica-gel column to get sufficient amounts of material to investigate structure and optical properties of the collected fractions. This preparative gradient elution method enabled us to separate moderately-fluorescent CDs from freely floating molecular fluorophores, polymeric fluorophores and CDs with built-in fluorophores. Here, we evidenced that amorphous CDs co-exist with crystalline CDs in one and the same suspension and showed that the amount of crystalline CDs increases with the synthesis temperature. In the second step, we turned to high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) to further improve and optimize the efficiency of purification and automate it. Via HPLC, we were able to well-separate of up to six components. Within this work, we laid the foundation for CD purification with the highest possible purity for aqueous, bottom-up synthesized CDs and quantified the true quantum yield of CDs.

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Michaud, V., Pracht, J., Schilfarth, F., Damm, C., Platzer, B., Haines, P.,... Peukert, W. (2021). Well-separated water-soluble carbon dots via gradient chromatography. Nanoscale. https://dx.doi.org/10.1039/d1nr02562g


Michaud, Vanessa, et al. "Well-separated water-soluble carbon dots via gradient chromatography." Nanoscale (2021).

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