Harnessing Molecular Fluorophores in the Carbon Dots Matrix: The Case of Safranin O

Nanomaterials (Basel). 2022 Jul 9;12(14):2351. doi: 10.3390/nano12142351.


The origin of fluorescence in carbon dots (C-dots) is still a puzzling phenomenon. The emission is, in most of the cases, due to molecular fluorophores formed in situ during the synthesis. The carbonization during C-dots processing does not allow, however, a fine control of the properties and makes finding the source of the fluorescence a challenging task. In this work, we present a strategy to embed a pre-formed fluorescent molecule, safranin O dye, into an amorphous carbonaceous dot obtained by citric acid carbonization. The dye is introduced in the melted solution of citric acid and after pyrolysis remains incorporated in a carbonaceous matrix to form red-emitting C-dots that are strongly resistant to photobleaching. Embedding dyes in amorphous C-dots represents an alternative method to optimize the emission in the whole visible spectrum.

Keywords: carbon dots; nanoparticles; phosphors; safranin.