Paramagnetism in Microwave-Synthesized Metal-Free Nitrogen-Doped Graphene Quantum Dots

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Nitrogen-doped graphene quantum dots (NGQDs) have gained significant attention due to their various physical and chemical properties; however, there is a gap in the study of NGQDs’ magnetic properties. This work adds to the efforts of bridging the gap by demonstrating the room temperature paramagnetism in GQDs doped with Nitrogen up to 3.26 at.%. The focus of this experimental work was to confirm the paramagnetic behavior of metal free NGQDs resulting from the pyridinic N configuration in the GQDs host. Metal-free nitrogen-doped NGQDs were synthesized using glucose and liquid ammonia as precursors by microwave-assisted synthesis. This was followed by dialysis filtration. The morphology, optical, and magnetic properties of the synthesized NGQDs were characterized carefully through atomic force microscopy (AFM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM)), UV-VIS spectroscopy, fluorescence, X-ray photon spectroscopy (XPS), and vibrating sample magnetometer (VSM). The high-resolution TEM analysis of NGQDs showed that the NGQDs have a hexagonal crystalline structure with a lattice fringe of ~0.24 nm of (1120) graphene plane. The N1s peak using XPS was assigned to pyridinic, pyrrolic, graphitic, and oxygenated NGQDs. The magnetic study showed the room-temperature paramagnetic behavior of NGQDs with pyridinic N configuration, which was found to have a magnetization of 20.8 emu/g.