Waste to wealth translation of e-waste to plasmonic nanostructures for surface-enhanced Raman scattering

Pooja Devi, Kenneth N. Hipp, Anupma Thakur, Rebecca Y. Lai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Here we report, for the first time, a simple one-step recycling of discharged batteries, a major constituent of electronic waste (e-waste), into value-added fluorescent nanomaterials-carbon quantum dots (CQDs). The e-waste derived CQDs (eW-CQDs) were systematically characterized for their optical properties, including absorption, photoluminescence, quantum yield, and emission lifetime. The morphology of these nanomaterials was determined by high-resolution transmission electron microscopy, selected area electron diffraction, and X-ray diffraction, whereas Raman spectroscopy was used to confirm their carbonaceous architecture. To broaden the range of applications, the eW-CQDs were employed in the synthesis of plasmonic nanostructures (eW-Au@CQDs) via a one-step chemical reduction strategy. Both eW-CQDs and eW-Au@CQDs were further tested for their suitability to be used as surface-enhanced Raman (SERS) substrates for the detection of methylene blue (MB), a model dye and Raman reporter. Our results show that while eW-CQDs are not ideal for SERS applications, eW-Au@CQDs, when deposited on a gold-modified screen-printed carbon electrode (SPE), produce strong MB SERS signals. With further optimization, these eW-Au@CQDs-modified SPEs could find applications in SERS-based sensing. This study demonstrates a new, promising, and sustainable approach of converting e-waste such as discharged batteries into value-added products with potential for a wide range of applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1615-1623
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Nanoscience (Switzerland)
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • Carbon quantum dots
  • Discharged batteries
  • E-waste
  • Methylene blue
  • Recycling
  • SERS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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