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Afterglow Carbon Dots: From Fundamentals To Applications

Chenxi Peng, Xue Chen, Meiling Chen, Shenci Lu, Yu Wang, Suli Wu, Xiaowang Liu, Wei Huang

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The ability of carbon dots (CDs) to emit afterglow emission in addition to fluorescence in response to UV-to-visible excitation allows them to be a new class of luminescent materials. When compared with traditional organic or inorganic afterglow materials, CDs have a set of advantages, including small size, ease of synthesis, and absence of highly toxic metal ions. In addition, high dependence of their afterglow color output on temperature, excitation wavelength, and aggregation degrees adds remarkable flexibility in the creation of multimode luminescence of CDs without the need for changing their intrinsic attributes. These characteristics make CDs particularly attractive in the fields of sensing, anticounterfeiting, and data encryption. In this review, we first describe the general attributes of afterglow CDs and their fundamental afterglow mechanism. We then highlight recent strategic advances in the generation or activation of the afterglow luminescence of CDs. Considerable emphasis is placed on the summarization of their emergent afterglow properties in response to external stimulation. We further highlight the emerging applications of afterglow CDs on the basis of their unique optical features and present the key challenges needed to be addressed before the realization of their full practical utility.