Luminescent Carbon Nanodots: Emergent Nanolights



Similar to its popular older cousins the fullerene, the carbon nanotube, and graphene, the latest form of nanocarbon, the carbon nanodot, is inspiring intensive research efforts in its own right. These surface-passivated carbonaceous quantum dots, so-called C-dots, combine several favorable attributes of traditional semiconductor-based quantum dots (namely, size- and wavelength-dependent luminescence emission, resistance to photobleaching, ease of bioconjugation) without incurring the burden of intrinsic toxicity or elemental scarcity and without the need for stringent, intricate, tedious, costly, or inefficient preparation steps. C-dots can be produced inexpensively and on a large scale (frequently using a one-step pathway and potentially from biomass waste-derived sources) by many approaches, ranging from simple candle burning to in situ dehydration reactions to laser ablation methods. In this Review, we summarize recent advances in the synthesis and characterization of C-dots. We also speculate on their future and discuss potential developments for their use in energy conversion/storage, bioimaging, drug delivery, sensors, diagnostics, and composites.