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Carbon dots (CDots) are generally defined as small-carbon nanoparticles with surface organic functionalization and their classical synthesis is literally the functionalization of preexisting carbon nanoparticles. Other than these “classically defined CDots”, however, the majority of the dot samples reported in the literature were prepared by thermal carbonization of organic precursors in mostly “one-pot” processing. In this work, thermal processing of the selected precursors intended for carbonization was performed with conditions of 200 °C for 3 h, 330 °C for 6 h, and heating by microwave irradiation, yielding samples denoted as CS200, CS330, and CSMT, respectively. These samples are structurally different from the classical CDots and should be considered as “nano-carbon/organic hybrids”. Their optical spectroscopic properties were found comparable to those of the classical CDots, but very different in the related photoinduced antibacterial activities. Mechanistic origins of the divergence were explored, with the results suggesting major factors associated with the structural and morphological characteristics of the hybrids.more » « less
The carbon/TiO2 hybrid dots (C/TiO2-Dots) are structurally TiO2 nanoparticles (in the order of 25 nm in diameter from commercially available colloidal TiO2 samples) surface-attached by nanoscale carbon domains with organic moieties, thus equivalent to hybrids of individual TiO2 nanoparticles each decorated with many carbon dots. These hybrid dots with exposure to visible light exhibit potent antibacterial properties, similar to those found in neat carbon dots with the same light activation. The results from the use of established scavengers for reactive oxygen species (ROS) to “quench” the antibacterial activities, an indication for shared mechanistic origins, are also similar. The findings in experiments on probing biological consequences of the antibacterial action suggest that the visible light-activated C/TiO2-Dots cause significant damage to the bacterial cell membrane, resulting in higher permeability, with the associated oxidative stress leading to lipid peroxidation, inhibiting bacterial growth. The induced bacterial cell damage could be observed more directly in the transmission electron microscopy (TEM) imaging. Opportunities for the further development of the hybrid dots platform for a variety of antibacterial applications are discussed.more » « less