Carbon-based dots (CDs) are nanoparticles with size-dependent optical and electronic properties that have been widely applied in energy-efficient displays and lighting, photovoltaic devices and biological markers. However, conventional CDs are difficult to be used as ideal stabilizer for Pickering emulsion due to its irrational amphiphilic structure. The study designed and synthesized a new histidine-functionalized carbon dot-Zinc(II) nanoparticles, which is termed as His-CD-Zn. The His-CD was made via one-step hydrothermal treatment of histidine and maleic acid. The His-CD reacted with Zn2+ to form His-CD-Zn. The as-prepared His-CD-Zn was used as a solid particle surfactant for stabilizing styrene-in-water emulsion. The Pickering emulsion exhibits high stability and sensitive pH-switching behaviour. The introduction of S2O82- triggers the emulsion polymerization of styrene. The resulted polystyrene microsphere was well coated with His-CDs on the surface. It was successfully used as an ideal adsorbent for removal of heavy metallic ions from water with high adsorption capacity. The study also provides a prominent approach for fabrication of amphiphilic carbon-based nanoparticles for stabilizing Pickering emulsion.