Carbon dots (CDs), including graphene quantum dots, carbon nanodots, carbon quantum dots, and carbonized polymer dots, belong to extensively studied nanomaterials with a very broad application potential resulting from their bright photoluminescence (PL), high (photo)stability, low toxicity and great biocompatibility. However, the design of CDs with tailored properties is still hampered by a fairly limited understanding of the CD PL, which stems from their rather complex structure and variability of the PL centers. Theoretical calculations provide valuable insights into the nature of the excited states and the source of PL. In this review, we focus on state-of-the-art theoretical methods for the description of absorption and PL of CDs and their limitations, along with providing an overview of theoretical studies addressing structural models and the electronic structure of various types of CDs in the context of their overall optical properties. Besides the assessment of the current state of knowledge, we also highlight the opportunity for further advancements in the field.
- Carbon dots
- Theoretical calculations