Due to their outstanding physicochemical properties, the next generation of the graphene family—graphene quantum dots (GQDs)—are at the cutting edge of nanotechnology development. GQDs generally possess many hydrophilic functionalities which allow their dispersibility in water but, on the other hand, could interfere with reactions that are mainly performed in organic solvents, as for cycloaddition reactions. We investigated the 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition (1,3-DCA) reactions of the C-ethoxycarbonyl N-methyl nitrone 1a and the newly synthesized C-diethoxyphosphorylpropilidene N-benzyl nitrone 1b with the surface of GQDs, affording the isoxazolidine cycloadducts isox-GQDs 2a and isox-GQDs 2b. Reactions were performed in mild and eco-friendly conditions, through the use of a natural deep eutectic solvent (NADES), free of chloride or any metal ions in its composition, and formed by the zwitterionic trimethylglycine as the -bond acceptor, and glycolic acid as the hydrogen-bond donor. The results reported in this study have for the first time proved the possibility of performing cycloaddition reactions directly to the p-cloud of the GQDs surface. The use of DES for the cycloaddition reactions on GQDs, other than to improve the solubility of reactants, has been shown to bring additional advantages because of the great affinity of these green solvents with aromatic systems.
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