Striking luminescence phenomena of carbon dots and their applications as a double ratiometric fluorescence probes for H2S detection

Yang Xu, Hongmei Yu*, Lalit Chudal, Nil Kanatha Pandey, Eric Horacio Amador, Brian Bui, Lingyun Wang, Xuedan Ma, Shuping Deng, Xiuhui Zhu, Shaoyan Wang*, Wei Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


Here, we report some new observations on the luminescence of carbon dots (CDs) that are passivated with polyethylene glycol, and explored them, for the first time, as highly sensitive H2S detection probe. The as-prepared CDs have an ultraviolet (UV) emission at 350 nm and a green emission at 540 nm when excited at 270 nm, but they have only a green emission at 523 nm when excited at 365 nm. As Na2S is added to the CDs, the UV emission decreases gradually, while the green emission increases slightly, and interestingly a new emission appears at 455 nm is increased linearly in intensity with the increase of Na2S concentration. The blue emission at 455 nm is from the intrinsic core of CDs, and the green emissions at 540 or 523 nm are from their surface states, while the UV emission at 350 nm is from the anchored PEG. Both the emission intensity ratios of F450/F350 and F455/F523 show an excellent linear relationship with the Na2S concentration in the range of 0–800 μM, and the detection limit estimated from both of them is approximately 7.0 nM, indicating our method is the most sensitive H2S CDs based detection method reported thus far. Furthermore, the detection was tested successfully for H2S imaging in live cells. We propose that the interactions of H2S with the CDs and the anchored ligands, as well as the energy transfer between the ligands and the CDs, are responsible for the luminescence responses for H2S detection. Our studies enrich the world of carbon dots with plenty of potential applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100328
JournalMaterials Today Physics
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Bioimaging
  • Carbon dots
  • Hydrogen sulfide
  • Ratiometric fluorescence probe
  • Sensor


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