Investigating quantum confinement in graphene under ambient conditions remains a challenge. In this study, we present graphene oxide quantum dots (GOQDs) that show excitation-wavelength-independent photoluminescence. The luminescence color varies from orange-red to blue as the GOQD size is reduced from 8 to 1 nm. The photoluminescence of each GOQD specimen is associated with electron transitions from the antibonding π (π∗) to oxygen nonbonding (n-state) orbitals. The observed quantum confinement is ascribed to a size change in the sp2 domains, which leads to a change in the π∗âπ gap; the n-state levels remain unaffected by the size change. The electronic properties and mechanisms involved in quantum-confined photoluminescence can serve as the foundation for the application of oxygenated graphene in electronics, photonics, and biology.
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