Soybean-derived blue photoluminescent carbon dots

Shanshan Wang, Wei Sun, Dong Sheng Yang, Fuqian Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Biomass-derived carbon dots (CDs) are biocompatible and have potential for a variety of applications, including bioimaging and biosensing. In this work, we use ground soybean residuals to synthesize carbon nanoparticles by hydrothermal carbonization (HTC), annealing at high temperature, and laser ablation (LA) in a NH4OH solution. The carbon nanoparticles synthesized with the HTC process (HTC-CDs) exhibit photoluminescent characteristics with strong blue emission. The annealing of the HTC-processed carbon particles in the range of 250 to 850 °C causes a loss of the photoluminescent characteristics of the CDs without any significant change in the microstructure (amorphous structure) of the carbon particles. The LA processing of the annealed HTC-processed carbon particles introduces nitrogen-containing surface-functional groups and leads to the recovery of the photoluminescent features that are different from those of the HTC-CDs and dependent on the fraction of nitrogen in the surface-functional groups. The photoluminescence of both the HTC-CDs and LA-CDs is largely due to the presence of N-containing surface-functional groups. The quantum yield of the LA-CDs is more constant than that of the HTC-CDs under continuous UV excitation and does not exhibit a significant reduction after 150 min of excitation. The methods used in this work provide a simple and green strategy to introduce N-surface-functional groups to carbon nanoparticles made from biomass and biowaste and to produce stable photoluminescent CDs with excellent water-wettability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number48
Pages (from-to)606-619
Number of pages14
JournalBeilstein Journal of Nanotechnology
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the grant CMMI-1634540 and CMMI-1854554 (FQY) monitored by Dr. Khershed Cooper, the grant CHE-1800316 (DSY) of the Division of Chemistry, and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 21805123) (WS).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Wang et al.


  • Biomass
  • Carbon dots
  • Hydrothermal process
  • Laser ablation
  • N-doping
  • Photoluminescence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science (all)
  • Physics and Astronomy (all)
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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