Snapshots into carbon dots formation through a combined spectroscopic approach

Francesco Rigodanza, Max Burian, Francesca Arcudi, Luka Đorđević, Heinz Amenitsch*, Maurizio Prato

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The design of novel carbon dots with ad hoc properties requires a comprehensive understanding of their formation mechanism, which is a complex task considering the number of variables involved, such as reaction time, structure of precursors or synthetic protocol employed. Herein, we systematically investigated the formation of carbon nanodots by tracking structural, chemical and photophysical features during the hydrothermal synthesis. We demonstrate that the formation of carbon nanodots consists of 4 consecutive steps: (i) aggregation of small organic molecules, (ii) formation of a dense core with an extended shell, (iii) collapse of the shell and (iv) aromatization of the core. In addition, we provide examples of routes towards tuning the core-shell design, synthesizing five novel carbon dots that all consist of an electron-dense core covered by an amine rich ligand shell.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2640
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

Fields of Expertise

  • Advanced Materials Science

Treatment code (Nähere Zuordnung)

  • Basic - Fundamental (Grundlagenforschung)
  • Experimental

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