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Sensors 2017, 17(11), 2614; doi:10.3390/s17112614

Sensitivity to Heavy-Metal Ions of Unfolded Fullerene Quantum Dots

1
Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Rome Tor Vergata, 00133 Rome, Italy
2
Department of Industrial Engineering INSTM and CiMER, University of Rome Tor Vergata, 00133 Rome, Italy
3
Department of Chemical Sciences and Technology, University of Rome Tor Vergata, 00133 Rome, Italy
4
Department of Chemistry, University of Rome Sapienza, 00187 Rome, Italy
5
National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work (INAIL), Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Epidemiology and Hygiene, 00078 Monte Porzio Catone, 00133 Rome, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 4 October 2017 / Revised: 31 October 2017 / Accepted: 12 November 2017 / Published: 14 November 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors Based on Quantum Phenomena)
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Abstract

A novel type of graphene-like quantum dots, synthesized by oxidation and cage-opening of C60 buckminsterfullerene, has been studied as a fluorescent and absorptive probe for heavy-metal ions. The lattice structure of such unfolded fullerene quantum dots (UFQDs) is distinct from that of graphene since it includes both carbon hexagons and pentagons. The basic optical properties, however, are similar to those of regular graphene oxide quantum dots. On the other hand, UFQDs behave quite differently in the presence of heavy-metal ions, in that multiple sensitivity to Cu2+, Pb2+ and As(III) was observed through comparable quenching of the fluorescent emission and different variations of the transmittance spectrum. By dynamic light scattering measurements and transmission electron microscope (TEM) images we confirmed, for the first time in metal sensing, that this response is due to multiple complexation and subsequent aggregation of UFQDs. Nonetheless, the explanation of the distinct behaviour of transmittance in the presence of As(III) and the formation of precipitate with Pb2+ require further studies. These differences, however, also make it possible to discriminate between the three metal ions in view of the implementation of a selective multiple sensor. View Full-Text
Keywords: carbon materials; heavy metals; sensors; spectroscopy; photoluminescence; quenching carbon materials; heavy metals; sensors; spectroscopy; photoluminescence; quenching
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Ciotta, E.; Paoloni, S.; Richetta, M.; Prosposito, P.; Tagliatesta, P.; Lorecchio, C.; Venditti, I.; Fratoddi, I.; Casciardi, S.; Pizzoferrato, R. Sensitivity to Heavy-Metal Ions of Unfolded Fullerene Quantum Dots. Sensors 2017, 17, 2614.

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