This review summarized the recent progress in the synthesis, characterization, properties, photoluminescence mechanism and biological applications of carbon dots.
Heteroatom-doped carbon dots (CDs), due to their excellent photoluminescence (PL) properties, attracted widespread attention recently and demonstrated immense promise for diverse applications, particularly for biological applications. The objective of this feature article is to provide a comprehensive overview of the recent progress in the research and development of heteroatom-doped CDs and a detailed description of the influence of single or co-doping heteroatoms on their PL behavior. The most recent understanding and critical insights into the PL mechanism of heteroatom-doped CDs are also highlighted. Moreover, potential bio-related applications of heteroatom-doped CDs in biosensing, bioimaging, and theranostics are also reviewed. This state-of-the-art review will provide a platform for understanding the intricate details of heteroatom-doped CDs, a summary of the latest progress in the field, and related applications in biology and is expected to inspire further developments in this exciting class of materials.