Functional Carbon Quantum Dots for Highly Sensitive Graphene Transistors for Cu2+ Ion Detection

Cu2+ ions play essential roles in various biological events that occur in the human body. It is important to establish an efficient and reliable detection of Cu2+ ions for people’s health. The solution-gated graphene transistors (SGGTs) have been extensively investigated as a promising platform for chemical and biological sensing applications. Herein, highly sensitive and highly selective sensor for Cu2+ ion detection is successfully constructed based on SGGTs with gate electrodes modified by functional carbon quantum dots (CQDs). The sensing mechanism of the sensor is that the coordination of CQDs and Cu2+ ions induces the capacitance change of the electrical double layer (EDL) near the gate electrode and then results in the change of channel current. Compared to other metal ions, Cu2+ ions have an excellent binding nature with CQDs that make it an ultrahigh selective sensor. The CQD-modified sensor achieves excellent Cu2+ ion detection with a minimal level of concentration (1 × 10–14 M), which is several orders of magnitude lower than the values obtained from other conventional detection methods. Interestingly, the device also displays a quick response time on the order of seconds. Due to the functionalized nature of CQDs, SGGTs with CQD-modified gate show good prospects to achieve multifunctional sensing platform in biochemical detections.