In this study, we present an alternative method for synthesizing carbon quantum dots (CQDs) using a green synthesis approach via extracts from Agave maximiliana and Opuntia ficus-indica (Ofi). The extracts from both plants were used as the carbon source for the CQDs. The synthesis method employs mesoporous zeolite 4A as a refractory for the thermal treatment of the samples. Transmission electron microscopy analysis established that the size of the CQDs shows a narrow distribution centered around 2 nm with a maximum size of less than 3 nm for both cases. The CQDs exhibit absorption bands associated with π-π* transitions located around 220 nm. In both cases, photoluminescence (PL) phenomenon was detected by irradiating the samples with a UV wavelength and detecting emissions close to the blue wavelength. Additionally, both kinds of CQDs were tested as surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) substrates against methylene blue (MB), indicating an enhancement associated with ring deformation and stretching modes of the v(C-C) and v(C-N) bonds located around 1400 and 1620 cm-1, respectively. Complementarily, in the framework of density functional theory, H2nC2(2m+1) structures (with n = 3-5 and m = 1-3) were used as a theoretical representation of CQDs in interaction with the MB molecule. It is used for developing the analysis of charge transfer effects between both systems and for specifying elements that generate the SERS effect associated with the chemical enhancement mechanism.
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© 2023 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society.