Indrajit Srivastava named runner-up in the 2021 Carbon Journal Prize for Ph.D. dissertation on carbon dots and revealing their fluorescence origins


Kaylan Waldron

Carbon dots are one of the most promising nanomaterials for biomedical applications. Due to their advantageous properties which include high aqueous solubility, favorable biocompatibility and minimal cytotoxicity, good photostability, tunable fluorescence excitation and emission, and photothermal ablative properties, they have many potential uses in the fields of bioimaging, biosensing and therapy. However, the origins of carbon dots, such as their fluorescence mechanisms remained unexplored.  In bioengineering professor Dipanjan Pan’s  lab, researchers explore carbon dots and Indrajit Srivastava (BIOE Ph.D. ‘20) was excited about this opportunity to get involved in these efforts for his Ph.D. dissertation. His dissertation was titled “Next Generation Multi-Color Carbon Dots: Comprehensive Understanding of their Photophysical Properties and Subsequent Use in Biomedical Applications.”

“We were the first to show an in-depth understanding of CDs fluorescence at the ensemble and single-particle levels - and found its fluorescence to correlate with their surface defects and an abundance of oxygen-rich groups on the nanoscale surface of CDs,” he said. “Once we had a better understanding on how to tune their fluorescence, I developed rational design strategies to engineer the optimization of CDs for application-specific uses such as in vitro & in vivo bioimaging, array-based biosensing, early-disease detections, and in vitro enzyme-mediated biodegradation studies.”

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 Srivastava had to defend his dissertation virtually which he said was a “surreal” experience, but luckily went smoothly. 

Professor Dipanjan Pan nominated Srivastava’s Ph.D. dissertation for the Carbon Journal Prize and he was awarded the runner-up for the 2021 Carbon Journal Prize. Srivastava would like to thank his Ph.D. advisor, professor Dipanjan Pan for the nomination. 

“I was extremely delighted and happy to be the runner-up for the Carbon Journal Prize. It’s even more gratifying to have one’s dissertation study being recognized by the eminent researchers in the carbon nanotechnology field who served as judge for this award.  One additional perk is that I join as an external advisory board member of the journal, Carbon," said Srivastava. 

The Carbon Journal Prize is one of many accomplishments Srivastava has had along with the 2020 BME Career Development Award, a 2021 Baxter Young Investigator Award and being named an ACS Future Faculty Scholar.

Srivastava would also like to thank his lab mates and collaborators during his time as Ph.D. student at UIUC. “Having a vastly diverse team with distinct research expertise helped us unravel the big scientific questions that existed in the carbon dot and the carbon nanotechnology research field,” he said.