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Systematic safety evaluation on photoluminescent carbon dots

Kan Wang1, Zhongcai Gao2, Guo Gao1, Yan Wo1, Yuxia Wang2*, Guangxia Shen1* and Daxiang Cui1*

Author affiliations

1 National Key Laboratory of Nano/Micro Fabrication Technology, Institute of Micro-Nano Science and Technology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 800 Dongchuan Road, Shanghai, 200240, People’s Republic of China

2 Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Academy of Military Medical Sciences, Beijing, 100850, People’s Republic of China

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Citation and License

Nanoscale Research Letters 2013, 8:122  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-8-122

Published: 8 March 2013


Photoluminescent carbon dots (C-dots) were prepared using the improved nitric acid oxidation method. The C-dots were characterized by tapping-mode atomic force microscopy, and UV–vis absorption spectroscopy. The C-dots were subjected to systematic safety evaluation via acute toxicity, subacute toxicity, and genotoxicity experiments (including mouse bone marrow micronuclear test and Salmonella typhimurium mutagenicity test). The results showed that the C-dots were successfully prepared with good stability, high dispersibility, and water solubility. At all studied C-dot dosages, no significant toxic effect, i.e., no abnormality or lesion, was observed in the organs of the animals. Therefore, the C-dots are non-toxic to mice under any dose and have potential use in fluorescence imaging in vivo, tumor cell tracking, and others.

Carbon dots; Biocompatibility; Toxicity