Modulating the Optical Properties of Citrazinic Acid through the Monomer-to-Dimer Transformation
AbstractUnderstanding the luminescence of carbon dots is a highly challenging task because of the complex reactions involved in the synthesis process. Several by-products form at different reaction stages and become possible sources of emission. Citrazinic acid and its derivatives, in particular, have been identified as intermediates that give rise to blue fluorescence. Full comprehension of the optical properties of citrazinic acid itself is, however, still lacking. In particular, citrazinic acid has the property of forming different tautomers and aggregates such as dimers. However, the nature of these chemical species and the correlation with their relative optical properties have been only partially explored. In the present work, we have used a combination of spectroscopic techniques, UV-visible and fluorescence spectroscopy, time-resolved photoluminescence and computational simulation, to study the different species which citrazinic acid forms in water as a function of CZA molarity. A monomer-to-dimer transformation and a hypsochromic shift are observed with concentration. The monomer is in the keto structure and does not form other tautomers while the dimers are fluorescent J-type aggregates. The formation of aggregates strongly modulates the optical properties of citrazinic acid.
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