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ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2013 Dec 11;5(23):12672-80. doi: 10.1021/am4040174. Epub 2013 Nov 25.

Graphene quantum dots from a facile sono-Fenton reaction and its hybrid with a polythiophene graft copolymer toward photovoltaic application.

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Polymer Science Unit, Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science , Jadavpur, Kolkata 700 032, India.


A new and facile approach for synthesizing graphene quantum dots (GQDs) using sono-Fenton reaction in an aqueous dispersion of graphene oxide (GO) is reported. The transmission electron microscopy (TEM) micrographs of GQDs indicate its average diameter as ∼5.6 ± 1.4 nm having a lattice parameter of 0.24 nm. GQDs are used to fabricate composites (PG) with a water-soluble polymer, polythiophene-g-poly[(diethylene glycol methyl ether methacrylate)-co-poly(N,N-dimethylaminoethyl methacrylate)] [PT-g-P(MeO2MA-co-DMAEMA), P]. TEM micrographs indicate that both P and PG possess distinct core-shell morphology and the average particle size of P (0.16 ± 0.08 μm) increases in PG (0.95 ± 0.45 μm). Fourier transform infrared and X-ray photoelectron spectrometry spectra suggest an interaction between -OH and -COOH groups of GQDs and -NMe2 groups of P. A decrease of the intensity ratio of Raman D and G bands (ID/IG) is noticed during GQD and PG formation. In contrast to GO, GQDs do not exhibit any absorption peak for its smaller-sized sp(2) domain, and in PG, the π-π* absorption of polythiophene (430 nm) of P disappears. The photoluminescence (PL) peak of GQD shifts from 450 to 580 nm upon a change in excitation from 270 to 540 nm. PL emission of PG at 537 nm is quenched, and it shifts toward lower wavelength (∼430 nm) with increasing aging time for energy transfer from P to GQDs followed by up-converted emission of GQDs. Both P and PG exhibit semiconducting behavior, and PG produces an almost reproducible photocurrent. Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) fabricated with an indium-titanium oxide/PG/graphite device using the N719 dye exhibit a short-circuit current (Jsc) of 4.36 mA/cm(2), an open-circuit voltage (Voc) of 0.78 V, a fill factor of 0.52, and a power conversion efficiency (PCE, η) of 1.76%. Extending the use of GQDs to fabricate DSSCs with polypyrrole, both Voc and Jsc increase with increasing GQD concentration, showing a maximum PCE of 2.09%. The PG composite exhibits better cell viability than the components.

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