New methods for determination of explosive substances as, for example, 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT), in a rapid way and at low cost are highly required. An electrochemical platform has been here developed with good characteristics of low dimension, fast response, low cost, and high selectivity. It is based on a commercially available screen printed cell with graphite ink working and auxiliary electrodes and a silver ink quasi-reference electrode. The whole cell is covered with a thick layer of cation exchanging acrylic polymer molecularly imprinted with 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene. The polymeric layer acts at the same time as electrolytic medium and selective receptor. It has been demonstrated that, in this medium, 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene is electroactive at graphite electrode, being reduced by a non-reversible reaction. The peak current (differential pulse voltammogram) is proportional to TNT concentration with limit of detection for TNT around 5 × 10−7 M and linearity range up to 2 × 10−5 M. The selectivity for TNT relative to other reducible compounds as, for example, nitroaromatic derivatives, and to other possible interfering substances, as negatively charged ions, is good. Measurements can be performed in not de-aerated solution and in small volumes (20 μl), so that the proposed platform is very promising for in situ determinations.
Electrochemical sensor Molecularly imprinted polymers Cation exchangers as electrolytic media Trinitrotoluene
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This work has been carried out with the financial support of a PRIN 2009, Research Programs of International Relevance, of MIUR (Italy). Thanks are due to CIDI (Milan-Italy) and Regione Lombardia (Italy) for a research fellowship to one of the Authors (G.D’A.)
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