Functionalization of cellulose carbon dots with different elements (N, B and S) for mercury ion detection and anti-counterfeit applications

Xiaoning Li, Quanyu Shi, Meng Li, Ningxin Song, Yumeng Xiao, Huining Xiao, Tony D. James, Lei Feng

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3 Citations (SciVal)


Mercury ion (Hg2+), as one of the most toxic heavy metal ions, accumulates easily in the environment, which can generate potential hazards to the ecosystem and human health. To effectively detect and remove Hg2+, we fabricated four types of carbon dots (CDs) using carboxymethyl nanocellulose as a carbon source doped with different elements using a hydrothermal method. All the CDs exhibited a strong fluorescence emission, excitation-dependent emission and possessed good water dispersibility. Moreover, the four fluorescent CDs were used for Hg2+ recognition in aqueous solution, where the CDs-N exhibited better sensitivity and selectivity for Hg2+ detection, with a low limit of detection of 8.29 × 10−6 mol/L. It was determined that the fluorescence quenching could be ascribed to a photoinduced charge-transfer processes between Hg2+ and the CDs. In addition, the CDs-N were used as a smart invisible ink for anti-counterfeiting, information encryption and decryption. Furthermore, the CDs-N were immersed into a cellulose (CMC)-based hydrogel network to prepare fluorescent hydrogels capable of simultaneously detecting and adsorbing Hg2+. We anticipate that this research will open possibilities for a green method to synthesize fluorescent CDs for metal ion detection and fluorescent ink production.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109021
JournalChinese Chemical Letters
Issue number7
Early online date2 Sept 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Sept 2023


  • Anti-counterfeiting
  • Carbon dots
  • Functional groups
  • Hg detection
  • Mechanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)

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