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Research Article

Nitrogen-doped carbon dots as photocatalysts for organic synthesis: Effect of nitrogen content on catalytic activity

Kai-Kai Niu,§Chao-Qun Ma,§Rui-Zhi DongHui Liu( )Sheng-Sheng YuLing-Bao Xing( )
School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Shandong University of Technology, Zibo 255000, China

§ Kai-Kai Niu and Chao-Qun Ma contributed equally to this work.

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Graphical Abstract

N-doped carbon dots (CDs) have been designed and synthesized, in which the nitrogen contents not only affect reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation ability of N-CDs, but also offer valuable insights for the future utilization of N-CDs for photocatalytic organic reactions in water.

Abstract

Regulating the doping of carbon dots (CDs) and the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) is essential to selectively control their application in photocatalytic organic reactions. This study successfully synthesized five newly developed nitrogen-doped carbon dots (CDs 1–5) with varying nitrogen content, which have the ability to generate ROS when exposed to light radiation, specifically superoxide anion radicals (O2•–) and singlet oxygen (1O2). The utilization of the aforementioned nitrogen-doped CDs as photocatalysts enables the realization of their potential in facilitating efficient photocatalytic organic conversion. Simultaneously, it was observed that the photocatalytic efficiency exhibited a gradual decrease when the nitrogen content in the CDs increased. In order to provide more evidence for this claim, we employed a set of five CDs in the context of photocatalytic dehalogenation of α-bromoacetophenone, photocatalytic oxidative coupling reaction of amines to imines, photooxidation reaction of sulfides to sulfoxides, and cross-dehydrogenation coupling (CDC) reaction, in which it was further observed that there was a steady decrease in the yields of photocatalytic organic reactions as the nitrogen content in CDs increased. Notably, CDs 1 exhibited the best photocatalytic efficiency, thereby reinforcing the hypothesis that a higher nitrogen content corresponds to a decreased catalytic efficiency. This study not only investigates the impact of the nitrogen content on the catalytic performance of CDs, but also offers valuable insights for the future utilization of CDs for photocatalytic organic reactions in water.

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Nano Research
Pages 4825-4833
Cite this article:
Niu K-K, Ma C-Q, Dong R-Z, et al. Nitrogen-doped carbon dots as photocatalysts for organic synthesis: Effect of nitrogen content on catalytic activity. Nano Research, 2024, 17(6): 4825-4833. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12274-024-6451-6
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Received: 01 November 2023
Revised: 18 December 2023
Accepted: 25 December 2023
Published: 08 February 2024
© Tsinghua University Press 2024
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