Carbon Dots for Forensic Applications: A Critical Review

Verhagen, Amy and Kelarakis, Antonios orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8112-5176 (2020) Carbon Dots for Forensic Applications: A Critical Review. Nanomaterials, 10 (8). p. 1535.

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Owing to their superior fluorescence performance, inexpensive synthesis and nontoxic nature, carbon dots (C-dots) are systematically explored in a variety of applications; in this review, we outline and critically discuss recent trends with respect to their potential exploitation in criminal investigation, forensic toxicology and anti-counterfeit interventions. Capitalising on their colour-tuneable behaviour (in the sense that they adopt different colours with respect to the incident radiation), C-dot-based compositions are ideal for the visual enhancement of latent fingerprints, affording improved contrast against multicoloured and patterned backgrounds. As highly sensitive and highly selective optical nanoprobes, C-dots show excellent analytical performance in detecting biological compounds, drugs, explosives, heavy metals and poisonous reactants. In addition, benefiting from their versatile structural and chemical composition, C-dots can be incorporated into ink and polymeric formulations capable of functioning as a new generation of cost-effective barcodes and security nanotags for object authentication and anti-counterfeit applications. Translating these encouraging research outcomes into real-life innovations with significant social and economic impact requires an open, multidisciplinary approach and a close synergy between materials scientists, biologists, forensic investigators and digital engineers.

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