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

Journal of the American Chemical Society 2018, 140(40), 12862-12869 


Journal of the American Chemical Society





The 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 …