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A one-step ultrasonic irradiation assisted strategy for the preparation of polymer-functionalized carbon quantum dots and their biological imaging

Huang, Hongye, Cui, Yi, Liu, Meiying, Chen, Junyu, Wan, Qing, Wen, Yuanqing, Deng, Fengjie, Zhou, Naigen, Zhang, Xiaoyong, Wei, Yen
Journal of colloid and interface science 2018 v.532 pp. 767-773
biocompatibility, carbon quantum dots, cigarettes, dispersibility, fluorescence, image analysis, irradiation, polyethylene glycol, thiols, ultrasonics
Fluorescent carbon nanoparticles (FCNs) have gradually become the most promising alternative candidates to other traditional fluorescent nanomaterials for biological applications on account of their excellent fluorescence property and remarkable biocompatibility. Although many methods have reported on the preparation of FCNs, to date, no studies have reported the preparation of polymers of functionalized FCNs. A high-efficiency method was developed in this work to synthesize high-quality poly(ethylene oxide) (PEG)-functionalized FCNs from cigarette ash and thiol group-containing PEG via a facile one-pot ultrasonic irradiation treatment. A series of characterization techniques demonstrated the uniform nanoscale size, good fluorescence stability, high water dispersibility and remarkable biocompatibility of the generated FCNs. Furthermore, cell imaging was easily achieved at high resolution using the synthetic FCNs as probes, which validates their potential for bioimaging applications. In summary, an efficient one-pot strategy is reported for the first time on the preparation of PEG-functionalized FCNs with the assistance of ultrasonic irradiation. This method should be of great research interest for the fabrication of other polymer-functionalized FCNs with designable properties and functions.