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Red, Yellow, And Blue Luminescence By Graphene Quantum Dots: Syntheses, Mechanism, And Cellular Imaging.

T. Gao, Xi Wang, L. Yang, H. He, Xiao-Xu Ba, J. Zhao, F. Jiang, Y. Liu
Published 2017 · Materials Science, Medicine

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Owing to their excellent photoluminescence (PL) properties, good biocompatibility, and low toxicity, graphene quantum dots (GQDs) are widely applied in bioimaging, biosensing, and so forth. However, further development of GQDs is limited by their synthetic methodology and unclear PL mechanism. Therefore, it is urgent to find efficient and universal methods for the synthesis of GQDs with high stability, controllable surface properties, and tunable PL emission wavelength. By coating with polyethyleneimine (PEI) of different molecular weights, blue-, yellow-, and red-emitting GQDs were successfully prepared. By transmission electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, and dynamic light scattering, the characterization of size and morphology revealed that blue-emitting PEI1800 GQDs were monocoated, like jelly beans, and red-emitting PEI600 GQDs were multicoated, like capsules. The amidation reaction between carboxyl and amide functional groups played an important role in the coating process, as evidenced by IR spectroscopy and theoretical calculation with density functional theory B3LYP/6-31G*. The PL-tunable GQDs exhibited an excellent chemical stability and extremely low cytotoxicity, and they had been shown to be feasible for bioimaging, making these GQDs highly attractive for a wide variety of applications, including multicolor imaging and bioanalysis.
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