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Supramolecular-enhanced charge-transfer within entangled polyamide chains as the origin of the universal blue fluorescence of polymer carbon dots

AuthorsVallan, Lorenzo; Urriolabeitia, Esteban P. ; Ruipérez, Fernando; Matxain, Jon M.; Canton-Vitoria, Rubén; Tagmatarchis, Nikos; Benito, Ana M. ; Maser, Wolfgang K.
KeywordsPolymer carbon dots
Issue Date13-Sep-2018
PublisherAmerican Chemical Society
CitationJournal of the American Chemical Society 140(40): 12862-12869 (2018)
AbstractThe emission of a bright blue fluorescence is a unique feature common to the vast variety of polymer carbon dots (CDs) prepared from carboxylic acid and amine precursors. However, the difficulty to assign a precise chemical structure to this class of CDs yet hampers the comprehension of their underlying luminescence principle. In this work, we show that highly blue fluorescent model types of CDs can be prepared from citric acid and ethylenediamine through low temperature synthesis routes. Facilitating controlled polycondensation processes, the CDs reveal sizes of 1 - 1.5 nm formed by a compact network of short polyamide chains of about ten monomer units. Density functional theory calculations of these model CDs uncover the existence of spatially separated highest occupied molecular orbital and lowest unoccupied molecular orbital located at the amide and carboxylic groups, respectively. Photoinduced charge-transfer between these groups thus constitutes the origin of the strong blue fluorescence emission. Hydrogen-bond mediated supramolecular interactions between the polyamide chains enabling a rigid network structure further contribute to the enhancement of the radiative process. Moreover, the photoinduced charge-transfer processes in the polyamide network structure easily explain the performance of CDs in applications as revealed in studies on metal ion sensing. These findings thus are of general importance to the further development of polymer CDs with tailored properties as well as for the design of technological applications.
Publisher version (URL)https://dx.doi.org/10.1021/jacs.8b06051
ReferencesAnsón Casaos, Alejandro ; Hernández-Ferrer, Javier; Vallan, Lorenzo; Xie, Haibing ; Lira-Cantú, Mónica ; Benito, Ana M. ; Maser, Wolfgang K. Functionalized carbon dots on TiO2 for perovskite photovoltaics and stable photoanodes for water splitting. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhydene.2020.03.077. http://hdl.handle.net/10261/207374
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