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Microwave-assisted green synthesis of fluorescent carbon quantum dots from Mexican Mint extract for Fe3+ detection and bio-imaging applications

Natarajan Architha, Murugesan Ragupathi, Chellappan Shobana, Thangasamy Selvankumar, Ponnuchamy Kumar, Yun Sung Lee, Ramakrishnan Kalai Selvan
Environmental research 2021 v.199 pp. 111263
Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, Plectranthus amboinicus, absorption, ascorbic acid, biocompatibility, bioimaging, breast neoplasms, cell lines, chemical composition, cytotoxicity, emissions factor, fluorescence, fluorescent dyes, microwave treatment, mint, neoplasm cells, particle size, photostability, research, solubility, toxicity testing, ultraviolet radiation, wavelengths
Biomass-derived carbon quantum dots have drawn special interest owing to their admirable photostability, biocompatibility, fluorescence, high solubility, sensitivity and environmentally friendly properties. In the present work, the Carbon Quantum Dots (CQDs) was synthesized from the Plectranthus amboinicus (Mexican Mint) leaves via the microwave-assisted reflux method. The strong absorption peaks observed from UV–vis spectra at 291 and 330 nm corresponds to the π-π* and n-π* transitions, respectively, reveal the formation of CQDs. The synthesized CQDs showed bright blue fluorescence under UV irradiation with a fluorescence quantum yield of 17% and a maximum emission of 436 nm in the blue region at an excitation wavelength of 340 nm. The HRTEM analysis elucidates that the synthesized CQDs were crystalline and spherical in shape with a particle size of 2.43 ± 0.02 nm. The FT-IR spectroscopy confirms the presence of the different functional groups such as –OH, –CH, CO and C–O. The chemical composition of CQD was revealed through XPS analysis. The synthesized CQDs were used as a fluorescent probe to detect different metal ions, where high selectivity was obtained for Fe³⁺ ions through quenching phenomenon. The emission intensity of CQD showed a good linear relationship with R² = 0.9111 with the concentration of Fe³⁺ ions in the range of 0–15 μM. The fluorescence emission of CQD was turned OFF upon the binding of Fe³⁺ ions and turned – ON with the addition of ascorbic acid. With this fluorescent turn ON-OFF behaviour of CQD, the NOT and IMPLICATION logic gates were constructed and studied for different input conditions. The biocompatibility of CQD was tested via MTT assay using MCF7 breast cancer cell line, which revealed that CQD synthesized from the Mexican Mint leaves possess less cytotoxicity. Further, the prepared CQD was applied effectively as fluorescent probes in a cell imaging application.