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Sci Total Environ. 2019 Mar 15;656:531-539. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.11.393. Epub 2018 Nov 27.

Microalgae biochar-derived carbon dots and their application in heavy metal sensing in aqueous systems.

Author information

1
Institute of Life Science (ILS 1), Swansea University Medical School, Swansea University, Swansea, SA2 8PP, Wales, UK. Electronic address: j.e.placidoescobar@swansea.ac.uk.
2
Department of Physics, Centre for NanoHealth, Swansea University, Swansea, SA2 8PP, Wales, UK.
3
Institute of Life Science (ILS 1), Swansea University Medical School, Swansea University, Swansea, SA2 8PP, Wales, UK.
4
Institute of Life Science (ILS 1), Swansea University Medical School, Swansea University, Swansea, SA2 8PP, Wales, UK. Electronic address: s.l.kelly@swansea.ac.uk.

Abstract

This research seeks a coupled solution for managing the large amounts of biochar produced by microalgae biofuel production, and the necessity for novel, economic and accurate heavy metal sensing methods. Therefore, this study evaluated the transformation of microalgae biochar (MAB) into carbon dots (Cdots) and their subsequent application as heavy metal ion sensors in aqueous systems. The experimental phase included the transformation of MAB into microalgae biochar-derived carbon dots (MAB-Cdots), MAB-Cdot characterisation and the evaluation of the MAB-Cdots as transducers for the detection of four heavy metal ions (Pb2+, Cu2+, Cd2+, and Ni2+). MAB-Cdot fluorescence was stable over a wide range of pH and resistant to photo-bleaching, making them suitable as fluorescence probes. The MAB-Cdot fluorescence was quenched by all of the metal ions and displayed different quenching levels. Depending upon the ions involved, MAB-Cdots were used to detect the presence of heavy metal ions from concentrations of 0.012 μM up to 2 mM by measuring the reduction in fluorescence intensity. Neutral and slightly alkaline pHs were optimal for Cu2+ Ni2+ and Pb2+ heavy metal quenching. To quantify the concentration of the heavy metal ions, linear and logarithmic functions were used to model the MAB-Cdot fluorescence quenching. The sensing mechanism was determined to be reversible and purely collisional with some fluorophores less accessible than the others. This work demonstrated the ability to produce Cdots from microalgae biochar, examined their application as a transducer for detecting heavy metal ions in aqueous systems and paves the way for novel sensing systems using MAB-Cdots.

KEYWORDS:

Biochar; Carbon dots; Fluorescence sensors; Heavy metal ion; Microalgae; Quenching; Renewable nanomaterials

PMID:
30529956
DOI:
10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.11.393
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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