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Nitrogen and Sulfur Co-doped Fluorescent Carbon Dots for the Detection of Morin and Cell Imaging

[ Vol. 15 , Issue. 1 ]


Xuebing Li, Haifen Yang, Ning Wang, Tijian Sun*, Wei Bian* and Martin M.F. Choi   Pages 47 - 55 ( 9 )


Background: Morin has many pharmacological functions including antioxidant, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial effects. It is commonly used in the treatment of antiviral infection, gastropathy, coronary heart disease and hepatitis B in clinic. However, researches have shown that morin is likely to show prooxidative effects on the cells when the amount of treatment is at high dose, leading to the decrease of intracellular ATP levels and the increase of necrosis process. Therefore, it is necessary to determine the concentration of morin in biologic samples.

Method: Novel water-soluble and green nitrogen and sulfur co-doped carbon dots (NSCDs) were prepared by a microwave heating process with citric acid and L-cysteine. The fluorescence spectra were collected at an excitation wavelength of 350 nm when solutions of NSCDs were mixed with various concentrations of morin.

Results: The as-prepared NSCDs were characterized by transmission electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. The fluorescence intensity of NSCDs decreased significantly with the increase of morin concentration. The fluorescence intensity of NSCDs displayed a linear response to morin in the concentration 0.10-30 μM with a low detection limit of 56 nM. The proposed fluorescent probe was applied to analysis of morin in human body fluids with recoveries of 98.0-102%.

Conclusion: NSCDs were prepared by a microwave heating process. The present analytical method is sensitive to morin. The quenching process between NSCDs and morin is attributed to the static quenching. In addition, the cellular toxicity on HeLa cells indicated that the as-prepared NSCDs fluorescent probe does not show obvious cytotoxicity in cell imaging. Our proposed method possibly opens up a rapid and nontoxic way for preparing heteroatom doped carbon dots with a broad application prospect.


Carbon dots, cell imaging, co-doped, detection, fluorescent probe, morin.


Shanxi Medical University, 030001 Taiyuan, Shanxi Medical University, 030001 Taiyuan, Shanxi Medical University, 030001 Taiyuan, Shanxi Medical University, 030001 Taiyuan, Shanxi Medical University, 030001 Taiyuan, Bristol Chinese Christian Church, c/o Tyndale Baptist Church, 137-139 Whiteladies Road, Bristol, BS8 2QG

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