Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Doo Young Kim


Graphene quantum dots (GQDs) are small pieces of graphene oxide whose physical dimensions are so confined (a few to a few tens nm) that they have a finite bandgap due to a quantum confinement effect. The finite bandgap of GQDs grants them pronounced absorption bands and a substantial photoluminescence. These optical properties are rarely observed in traditional carbon materials, since most of carbon materials are metallic with a near-zero bandgap and thus have broad absorption spectra with no photoluminescence. The unique optical properties of GQDs, along with GQDs’ inherited advantages from carbon material family (cheap, abundant, non-toxic), make GQDs an attractive material for various applications such as bio-imaging, photoinduced therapy, chemical and metal ion sensors, and photovoltaic devices. Despite of their great potential, several great challenges need to be overcome to enable wider applications. One challenge is the fact that GQDs prepared by typical chemical methods possess significant inhomogeneity, so the precise control of the dimension and surface functionalities is very difficult. Due to the inhomogeneity of GQDs in terms of dimensions and surface functionalities, it is challengeable to establish a precise structure-property relationship. As of today, it is still under debate how surface functional groups of GQDs are responsible for the photoluminescence mechanism, photophysics, and photochemistry. This dissertation is mainly to provide a dedicated study about the photoluminescence mechanism and structure-property relations of GQDs.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)