Facile Size-Controlled Synthesis of Fluorescent Carbon Nanoparticles with Size-Independent Optical Properties

Nanoparticle imaging probes and drug delivery systems have distinct advantages over free or diffusive delivery in that they can concentrate the imaging contrast agent and/or drug, elicit controlled release/degradation, and have a high surface area to volume ratio beneficial for attaching targeting ligands. The size of these nanoparticles affects delivery, retention, degradation rate, and sometimes the radiological properties of the particles. For many optically active nanoparticles (such as gold, silver, and quantum dots), the optical properties are directly dependent on the size and shape of the nanoparticles. While this provides a simplistic outlet for modifying the optical properties of those nanoparticles, it is limiting in that their applications are also dependent on morphology. In these works, we aim to determine if the optical properties of fluorescent carbon nanoparticles are dependent on size through variations in synthetic parameters. Fluorescent carbon nanoparticles with hydrodynamic diameters ranging from 10 – 500 nm were prepared through variations of sugar source, concentration of agave (as a sugar source) and incubation time. Through comparisons made between these nanoparticles, we found no change in the local absorbance maxima and refractive index, with < 5 nm shifting in fluorescence maxima location. We have observed that fluorescent carbon nanoparticles can be prepared within a large range of sizes (10 – 500 nm) without considerable shift in optical properties. Because of this observation, we can infer that the optical properties of fluorescent carbon nanoparticles are largely size independent.