A deep investigation into the structure of carbon dots

Keenan J. Mintz, Mattia Bartoli, Massimo Rovere, Yiqun Zhou, Sajini D. Hettiarachchi, Suraj Paudyal, Jiuyan Chen, Justin B. Domena, Piumi Y. Liyanage, Rachel Sampson, Durga Khadka, Raja R. Pandey, Sunxiang Huang, Charles C. Chusuei, Alberto Tagliaferro, Roger M. Leblanc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Since their discovery, carbon dots (CDs) have been a promising nanomaterial in a variety of fields including nanomedicine. Despite their potential in this area, there are many obstacles to overcome for CDs to be approved for biomedical use. One major hindrance to CDs’ approval is related to their poorly defined structure. Herein a structural study of CDs is presented in order to rectify this shortcoming. The properties of three CDs which have significant promise in biomedical applications, black CDs (B-CDs), carbon nitride dots (CNDs), and yellow CDs (Y-CDs), are compared in order to develop a coherent structural model for each nanosystem. Absorption coefficients were measured for each system and this data gave insight on the level of disorder in each system. Furthermore, extensive structural characterization has been performed in order to derive structural information for each system. This data showed that B-CDs and CNDs are functionalized to a greater degree and are also more disordered and amorphous than Y-CDs. These techniques were used to develop a structural model consistent with the obtained data and what is known for carbonic nanostructures. These models can be used to analyze CD emission properties and to better understand the structure-property relationship in CDs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-447
Number of pages15
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Carbon dots
  • Crystallography
  • Nanoparticle characterization
  • Spectroscopy
  • Structure determination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)


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