In this study, water-soluble emissive carbon dots (CDs) are effectively fabricated with specific optical properties and colors by acid oxidation of muskmelon (Cucumis melo) fruit, which are termed as C. melo CDs (CMCDs). The fluorescence properties of CMCDs were tuned by controlling the experimental conditions that allow them to emit different colors, that is, blue (B-), green (G-), and yellow (Y-) CMCDs, with different emission wavelengths at 432, 515, and 554 nm when excited at 342, 415, and 425 nm, respectively. The fabricated multicolor-emissive CDs were confirmed by various analytical techniques. The sizes of B-, G-, and Y-CMCDs were found to be ∼3.5, ∼4.3, and ∼5.8 nm, respectively. The as-prepared CMCDs display stable emissions with quantum yields of 7.07, 26.9, and 14.3% for the three CMCDs, which could act as a promising probe for the selective detection of Hg2+ ions. Upon the addition of Hg2+ ions, the fluorescence intensity of G-CMCDs at 515 nm was quenched largely than that of B- and Y-CMCDs. The spectroscopic results display that the G-CMCDs acted as a sensor for the detection of Hg2+ ions with a wide linear range from 1.0 to 25 μM (R 2 = 0.9855) with a detection limit of 0.33 μM. This method was successfully applied to detect Hg2+ ions in biological and water samples. The fabricated multicolor-emissive CMCDs possess the cell (Cunninghamella elegans, Aspergillus flavus, and Rhizoctonia solani) imaging property, suggesting the biocompatible nature for multicolor imaging of various cells.
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