Small (Weinheim an der Bergstrasse, Germany)

Is the Chain of Oxidation and Reduction Process Reversible in Luminescent Graphene Quantum Dots?

PMID 25925604


Graphene-based quantum dots (QDs) have received a tremendous amount of attention as a new type of light-emitting materials. However, their luminescence origins remain controversial due to extrinsic states of the impurities and disorder structures. Especially, the function of oxygen-contents should be understood and controlled as a crucial element for tuning the optical properties of graphene-based QDs. Herein, a series of graphene oxide QDs (GOQDs) with different amounts of oxygen-contents are first synthesized via a direct oxidation route of graphite nanoparticle and thoroughly compared with a series of reduced GOQDs (rGOQDs) prepared by the conventional chemical reduction. Irreversible emission and different carrier dynamics are observed between the GOQDs and rGOQDs, although both routes show a similar tendency with regard to the variation of oxygen-functional components. Their luminescence mechanisms are closely associated with different atomic structures. The mechanism for the rGOQDs can be associated with a formation of small sp(2) nanodomains as luminescent centers, whereas those of GOQDs may be composed of oxygen-islands with difference sizes depending on oxidation conditions surrounded by a large area of sp(2) bonding. Important insights for understanding the optical properties of graphene-based QDs and how they are affected by oxygen-functional groups are shown.