Aggregation-induced emission carbon dots as Al3+-mediated nanoaggregate probe for rapid and selective detection of tetracycline

Young Hun Seo, Diana Elizabeth Aguilar Estrada, Dohyub Jang, Seungyun Baik, Jaeho Lee, Dong Ha Kim, Sehoon Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Worldwide abuse of tetracycline (TC) seriously threatens environmental safety and human health. Metal-TC complexes formed by residual TC in the environment can also contribute to the spread of antibiotic resistance. Therefore, monitoring of TC residues is still required. Here, we report novel aggregation-induced emission carbon dots (AIE-Cdots) as nanoaggregate probes for the rapid and selective detection of TC residue. Riboflavin precursors with rotational functional groups led to the development of AIE-Cdots. The aggregation of AIE-Cdots was induced selectively for Al3+, amplifying the fluorescence signals owing to the restricted rotation of the side chains on the AIE-Cdot surface. The fluorescence signal of such Al3+-mediated nanoaggregates (Al3+-NAs) was further triggered by the structural fixation of TC at the Al3+ active sites, suggesting the formation of TC-coordinated Al3+-NAs. A linear correlation was observed in the TC concentration range of 0–10 μM with a detection limit of 42 nM. In addition, the strong Al3+ binding affinity of AIE-Cdots produced similar NAs and enhanced fluorescence signals in Al3+–TC mixtures. These AIE-Cdots-based nanoplatforms have a rapid response, good selectivity, and reliable accuracy for detecting TC or aluminum complexes, meeting the requirements for hazardous substance monitoring and removal in environmental applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number123925
JournalSpectrochimica Acta - Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy
StatePublished - 5 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

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© 2024 Elsevier B.V.


  • Aggregation induced emission
  • Al ion
  • Carbon dots
  • Nanoaggregates
  • Rotational functional group
  • Tetracycline


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