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  1. Carbon dots (CDots) are small carbon nanoparticles with effective surface passivation by organic functionalization. In the reported work, the surface functionalization of preexisting small carbon nanoparticles with N-ethylcarbazole (NEC) was achieved by the NEC radical addition. Due to the major difference in microwave absorption between the carbon nanoparticles and organic species such as NEC, the nanoparticles could be selectively heated via microwave irradiation to enable the hydrogen abstraction in NEC to generate NEC radicals, followed by in situ additions of the radicals to the nanoparticles. The resulting NEC-CDots were characterized by microscopy and spectroscopy techniques including quantitative proton and 13C NMR methods. The optical spectroscopic properties of the dot sample were found to be largely the same as those of CDots from other organic functionalization schemes. The high structural stability of NEC-CDots benefiting from the radical addition functionalization is highlighted and discussed. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2024
  2. 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. 
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  3. Carbon dots (CDots) of small carbon nanoparticles with oligomeric polyethylenimine for surface functionalization, coupled with visible light exposure, were found highly effective in the inactivation of bacterial pathogens. In this study, using a representative strain of a major foodborne pathogen – Listeria monocytogenes , as a target, the effects of the CDots treatment at sublethal concentrations on bacterial functions/behaviors related to the biofilm formation ability/potential, including cell attachment and swimming motility, were assessed. On the consequence at molecular level, the expression levels of the genes that are related to cell attachment/adhesion, motility, flagellar synthesis, quorum sensing, and environmental stress response and virulence were found all being up-regulated. 
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  4. 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. 
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  5. Carbon “quantum” dots or carbon dots (CDots) exploit and enhance the intrinsic photoexcited state properties and processes of small carbon nanoparticles via effective nanoparticle surface passivation by chemical functionalization with organic species. The optical properties and photoinduced redox characteristics of CDots are competitive to those of established conventional semiconductor quantum dots and also fullerenes and other carbon nanomaterials. Highlighted here are major advances in the exploration of CDots for their serving as high-performance yet nontoxic fluorescence probes for one- and multi-photon bioimaging in vitro and in vivo, and for their uniquely potent antimicrobial function to inactivate effectively and efficiently some of the toughest bacterial pathogens and viruses under visible/natural or ambient light conditions. Opportunities and challenges in the further development of the CDots platform and related technologies are discussed. 
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  6. This study aimed to address the significant problems of bacterial biofilms found in medical fields and many industries. It explores the potential of classic photoactive carbon dots (CDots), with 2,2′-(ethylenedioxy)bis (ethylamine) (EDA) for dot surface functionalization (thus, EDA-CDots) for their inhibitory effect on B. subtilis biofilm formation and the inactivation of B. subtilis cells within established biofilm. The EDA-CDots were synthesized by chemical functionalization of selected small carbon nanoparticles with EDA molecules in amidation reactions. The inhibitory efficacy of CDots with visible light against biofilm formation was dependent significantly on the time point when CDots were added; the earlier the CDots were added, the better the inhibitory effect on the biofilm formation. The evaluation of antibacterial action of light-activated EDA-CDots against planktonic B. subtilis cells versus the cells in biofilm indicate that CDots are highly effective for inactivating planktonic cells but barely inactivate cells in established biofilms. However, when coupling with chelating agents (e.g., EDTA) to target the biofilm architecture by breaking or weakening the EPS protection, much enhanced photoinactivation of biofilm-associated cells by CDots was achieved. The study demonstrates the potential of CDots to prevent the initiation of biofilm formation and to inhibit biofilm growth at an early stage. Strategic combination treatment could enhance the effectiveness of photoinactivation by CDots to biofilm-associated cells. 
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  7. Björkroth, Johanna (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Foodborne pathogens have long been recognized as major challenges for the food industry and repeatedly implicated in food product recalls and outbreaks of foodborne diseases. This study demonstrated the application of a recently discovered class of visible-light-activated carbon-based nanoparticles, namely, carbon dots (CDots), for photodynamic inactivation of foodborne pathogens. The results demonstrated that CDots were highly effective in the photoinactivation of Listeria monocytogenes in suspensions and on stainless steel surfaces. However, it was much less effective for Salmonella cells, but treatments with higher CDot concentrations and longer times were still able to inactivate Salmonella cells. The mechanistic implications of the observed different antibacterial effects on the two types of cells were assessed, and the associated generation of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS), the resulting lipid peroxidation, and the leakage of nucleic acid and proteins from the treated cells were analyzed, with the results collectively suggesting CDots as a class of promising photodynamic inactivation agents for foodborne pathogens. IMPORTANCE Foodborne infectious diseases have long been recognized as major challenges in public health. Contaminations of food processing facilities and equipment with foodborne pathogens occur often. There is a critical need for new tools/approaches to control the pathogens and prevent such contaminations in food processing facilities and other settings. This study reports a newly established antimicrobial nanomaterials platform, CDots coupled with visible/natural light, for effective and efficient inactivation of representative foodborne bacterial pathogens. The study will contribute to promoting the practical application of CDots as a new class of promising nanomaterial-based photodynamic inactivation agents for foodborne pathogens. 
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  8. null (Ed.)
    Carbon dots were originally found and reported as surface-passivated small carbon nanoparticles, where the effective surface passivation was the chemical functionalization of the carbon nanoparticles with organic molecules. Understandably, the very broad optical absorptions of carbon dots are largely the same as those intrinsic to the carbon nanoparticles, characterized by progressively decreasing absorptivities from shorter to longer wavelengths. Thus, carbon dots are generally weak absorbers in the red/near-IR and correspondingly weak emitters with low quantum yields. Much effort has been made on enhancing the optical performance of carbon dots in the red/near-IR, but without meaningful success due to the fact that optical absorptivities defined by Mother Nature are in general rather inert to any induced alterations. Nevertheless, there were shockingly casual claims in the literature on the major success in dramatically altering the optical absorption profiles of “carbon dots” by simply manipulating the dot synthesis to produce samples of some prominent optical absorption bands in the red/near-IR. Such claims have found warm receptions in the research field with a desperate need for carbon dots of the same optical performance in the red/near-IR as that in the green and blue. However, by looking closely at the initially reported synthesis and all its copies in subsequent investigations on the “red/near-IR carbon dots”, one would find that the “success” of the synthesis by thermal or hydrothermal carbonization processing requires specific precursor mixtures of citric acid with formamide or urea. In the study reported here, the systematic investigation included precursor mixtures of citric acid with not only formamide or urea but also their partially methylated or permethylated derivatives for the carbonization processing under conditions similar to and beyond those commonly used and reported in the literature. Collectively all of the results are consistent only with the conclusion that the origins of the observed red/near-IR optical absorptions in samples from some of the precursor mixtures must be molecular chromophores from thermally induced chemical reactions, nothing to do with any nanoscale carbon entities produced by carbonization. 
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