Gel-like carbon dots: A high-performance future photocatalyst

Yiqun Zhou, Ahmed E. ElMetwally, Jiuyan Chen, Wenquan Shi, Emel K. Cilingir, Brian Walters, Keenan J. Mintz, Christian Martin, Braulio C.L.B. Ferreira, Wei Zhang, Sajini D. Hettiarachchi, Leonardo F. Serafim, Patricia L. Blackwelder, Athula H. Wikramanayake, Zhili Peng, Roger M. Leblanc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


To protect water resources, halt waterborne diseases, and prevent future water crises, photocatalytic degradation of water pollutants arouse worldwide interest. However, considering the low degradation efficiency and risk of secondary pollution displayed by most metal-based photocatalysts, highly efficient and environmentally friendly photocatalysts with appropriate band gap, such as carbon dots (CDs), are in urgent demand. In this study, the photocatalytic activity of gel-like CDs (G-CDs) was studied using diverse water pollution models for photocatalytic degradation. The degradation rate constants demonstrated a remarkably enhanced photocatalytic activity of G-CDs compared with most known CD species and comparability to graphitic carbon nitride (g-C3N4). In addition, the rate constant was further improved by 1.4 times through the embedment of g-C3N4 in G-CDs to obtain CD-C3N4. Significantly, the rate constant was also higher than that of g-C3N4 alone, revealing a synergistic effect. Moreover, the use of diverse radical scavengers suggested that the main contributors to the photocatalytic degradation with G-CDs alone were superoxide radicals (O2[rad]−) and holes that were, however, substituted by O2[rad]− and hydroxyl radicals ([rad]OH) due to the addition of g-C3N4. Furthermore, the photocatalytic stabilities of G-CDs and CD-C3N4 turned out to be excellent after four cycles of dye degradation were performed continuously. Eventually, the nontoxicity and environmental friendliness of G-CDs and CD-C3N4 were displayed with sea urchin cytotoxicity tests. Hence, through various characterizations, photocatalytic degradation and cytotoxicity tests, G-CDs proved to be an environmentally friendly and highly efficient future photocatalyst.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)519-532
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Colloid And Interface Science
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Carbon dots
  • Degradation
  • Mineralization
  • Photocatalysis
  • Wastewater treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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