Smartphone coupled with paper-based chemical sensor for on-site determination of iron(III) in environmental and biological samples

  • Kamlesh ShrivasEmail author
  • Monisha
  • Tushar Kant
  • Indrapal Karbhal
  • Ramsingh Kurrey
  • Bhuneshwari Sahu
  • Deepak Sinha
  • Goutam Kumar Patra
  • Manas Kanti Deb
  • Shamsh Pervez
Research Paper


We report a smartphone–paper-based sensor impregnated with cetyltrimethylammonium bromide modified silver nanoparticles (AgNPs/CTAB) for determination of Fe3+ in water and blood plasma samples. The methodology for determination of Fe3+ is based on the change in signal intensity of AgNPs/CTAB fabricated on a paper substrate after the deposition of analyte, using a smartphone followed by processing with ImageJ software. The mechanism of sensing for detection and determination of Fe3+ is based on the discoloration of AgNPs which impregnated the paper substrate. The discoloration is attributed to the electron transfer reaction taking place on the surface of NPs in the presence of CTAB. Fe3+ was determined when the paper was impregnated with 1 mM AgNPs for 5 min of reaction time and the substrate was kept under acidic conditions. The linear range for determination of total iron in terms of Fe3+ was 50–900 μg L−1 with a limit of determination (LOD) of 20 μg L−1 and coefficient of variation (CV) of 3.2%. The good relative recovery of 91.3–95.0% and interference studies showed the selectivity of the method for determination of total iron in water and blood plasma samples. Smartphone–paper-based sensors have advantages of simplicity, rapidity, user-friendliness, low cost, and miniaturization of the method for on-site determination of total iron compared to methods that require sophisticated analytical instruments.

Graphical abstract

Smartphone–paper-based sensor with cetyltrimethylammonium bromide modified silver nanoparticles for determination of Fe3+ in water and blood plasma samples.


Smartphone Paper sensor AgNPs/CTAB ImageJ software Fe3 + Water and blood samples 



We would like to thank the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), New Delhi for awarding Kamlesh Shrivas as Extra Mural Research Project (File No: EMR/2016/005813).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

216_2019_2385_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (756 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 321 kb)


  1. 1.
    Rouault TA. The role of iron regulatory proteins in mammalian iron homeostasis and disease. Nat Chem Biol. 2006;2:406–14.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Jain A, Wadhawan S, Kumar V, Mehta SK. Colorimetric sensing of Fe3+ ions in aqueous solution using magnesium oxide nanoparticles synthesized using green approach. Chem Phys Lett. 2018;706:53–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Memon SS, Nafady A, Solangi AR, Al-Enizi AM, Sirajuddin, Shah MR, et al. Sensitive and selective aggregation based colorimetric sensing of Fe3+ via interaction with acetyl salicylic acid derived gold nanoparticles. Sensors Actuators B Chem. 2018;259:1006–2012.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Dara SS. A textbook of environmental chemistry and pollution control. New Delhi: Chand; 1993.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Sahin CA, Tokgoz I, Bektas S. Preconcentration and determination of iron and copper in spice samples by cloud point extraction and flow injection flame atomic absorption spectrometry. J Hazard Mater. 2010;181:359–65.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ke Y, Ming QZ. Iron misregulation in the brain: a primary cause of neurodegenerative disorders. Lancet Neurol. 2003;2:246–53.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Liu JM, Wang XX, Jiao L, Cui ML, Lin LP, Zhang LH, et al. Ultra-sensitive non-aggregation colorimetric sensor for determination of iron based on the signal amplification effect of Fe3+ catalyzing H2O2 oxidize gold nanorods. Talanta. 2013;116:199–204.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Woods J, Mellon M. Thiocyanate method for iron: A spectrophotometric study. Ind Eng Chem Anal Ed. 1941;13:551–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Hovinen J, Lahti M, Vilpo J. Spectrophotometric determination of thiocyanate in human saliva. J Chem Educ. 1999;76:1281–2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Kass M, Ivaska A. Spectrophotometric determination of iron(III) and total iron by sequential injection analysis technique. Talanta. 2002;58:1131–7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Węgiel K, Robak J, Bas B. Voltammetric determination of iron with catalytic system at a bismuth bulk annular band electrode electrochemically activated. RSC Adv. 2017;7:22027–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Caprara S, Laglera LM, Monticelli D. Ultrasensitive and fast voltammetric determination of iron in seawater by atmospheric oxygen catalysis in 500 μL samples. Anal Chem. 2015;87:6357–63.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Shrivas K, Dewangan K. Surfactant-assisted dispersive liquid–liquid microextraction for sensitive spectrophotometric determination of iron in food and water samples and comparison with atomic absorption spectrometry. J Surfactant Deterg. 2015;18:1137–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Jorhem L. Determination of metals in foods by atomic absorption spectrometry after dry ashing: NMKL1 collaborative study. J AOAC Inter. 2000;83:1204–11.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Bok-Badura J, Jakobik-Kolon A, Turek M, Boncel S, Karonc KA. A versatile method for direct determination of iron content in multi-wall carbon nanotubes by inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry with slurry sample introduction. RSC Adv. 2015;5:101634–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Nielson KK, Mahoney AW, Rogers VC. X-ray fluorescence and atomic absorption spectrophotometry measurements of manganese, iron, copper, and zinc in selected foods. J Agric Food Chem. 1988;36:1211–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Kumar TNK, Revanasidappa HD. Rapid and sensitive spectrophotometric determination of trace amounts of iron(III) using leuco xylene cyanol FF. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2003;376:1126–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Stalikas CD, Pappas AC, Karayannis MI, Veltsistas PG. Simple and selective spectrophotometric method for the determination of iron(III) and total iron content, based on the reaction of Fe(III) with 1,2-dihydroxy-3,4-diketocyclo-butene (squaric acid). Microchim Acta. 2003;142:43–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Ahmed MJ, Roy UK. A simple spectrophotometric method for the determination of iron(II) aqueous solutions. Turk J Chem. 2009;33:09–726.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Motl NE, Smith AF, DeSantisa CJ, Skrabalak SE. Engineering plasmonic metal colloids through composition and structural design. Chem Soc Rev. 2014;43:3823–34.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Zhang JS, Noguez C. Plasmonic optical properties and applications of metal nanostructures. Plasmonics. 2008;3:127–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Qin L, Zeng Z, Zeng G, Lai C, Duan A, Xiao R, et al. Cooperative catalytic performance of bimetallic Ni-Au nanocatalyst for highly efficient hydrogenation of nitroaromatics and corresponding mechanism insight. Appl Catal B Environ. 2019;259:118035.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Fu Y, Qin L, Huang D, Zeng G, Lai C, Li B, et al. Chitosan functionalized activated coke for Au nanoparticles anchoring: green synthesis and catalytic activities in hydrogenation of nitrophenols and azo dyes. Appl Catal B Environ. 2019;255:117740.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Shrivas K, Shankar R, Dewangan K. Gold nanoparticles as a localized surface plasmon resonance based chemical sensor for on-site colorimetric determination of arsenic in water samples. Sensors Actuators B Chem. 2015;220:1376–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Shrivas K, Nirmalkar N, Ghosale A, Thakur SS, Shankar R. Enhancement of plasmonic resonance through an exchange reaction on the surface of silver nanoparticles: application to the highly selective determination of triazophos pesticide in food and vegetable samples. RSC Adv. 2016;6:80739–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Rohita JV, Solankib JN, Kailasa SK. Surface modification of silver nanoparticles with dopamine dithiocarbamate for selective colorimetric sensing of mancozeb in environmental samples. Sensors Actuators B Chem. 2014;200:219–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Shrivas K, Sahu S, Sahu B, Kurrey R, Patle TK, Kant T, et al. Silver nanoparticles for selective detection of phosphorus pesticide containing π-conjugated pyrimidine nitrogen and sulfur moieties through non-covalent interactions. J Mol Liq. 2019;275:297–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Khalililaghab S, Momeni S, Farrokhnia M, Nabipour I, Karimi S. Development of a new colorimetric assay for detection of bisphenol-A in aqueous media using green synthesized silver chloride nanoparticles: experimental and theoretical study. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2017;409:2847–58.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Shrivas K, Sahu S, Ghorai A, Shankar R. Gold nanoparticles-based colorimetric determination of cationic surfactants in environmental water samples via both electrostatic and hydrophobic interactions. Microchim Acta. 2016;183:827–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Qin L, Zeng G, Lai C, Huang D, Zhang C, Xu P, et al. A visual application of gold nanoparticles: simple, reliable and sensitive detection of kanamycin based on hydrogen-bonding recognition. Sens Actuators B. 2017;243:946–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Laliwala SK, Mehta VN, Rohit JV, Kailasa SK. Citrate-modified silver nanoparticles as a colorimetric probe for simultaneous determination of four triptan-family drugs. Sensors Actuators B Chem. 2014;197:254–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Shrivas K, Nirmalkar N, Thakur SS, Kurrey R, Sinha D, Shankar R. Experimental and theoretical approaches for the selective detection of thymine in real samples using gold nanoparticles as a biochemical sensor. RSC Adv. 2018;8:24328–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Zhang XX, Song YZ, Fang F, Wu ZY. Sensitive paper-based analytical device for fast colorimetric detection of nitrite with smartphone. Anal Bional Chem. 2018;410:2665–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Nery EW, Kubota LT. Sensing approaches on paper-based devices: a review. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2013;405:7573–95.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Ratnarathorn N, Chailapakul O, Henry CS, Dungchai W. Simple silver nanoparticle colorimetric sensing for copper by paper-based devices. Talanta. 2012;99:552–7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Apilux A, Siangproh W, Praphairaksit N, Chailapakul O. Simple and rapid colorimetric determination of Hg(II) by a paper-based device using silver nanoplates. Talanta. 2012;97:388–94.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Chen Y, Fu G, Zilberman Y, Ruan W, Ameri SK, Zhang YS, et al. Low cost smart phone diagnostics for food using paper-based colorimetric sensor arrays. Food Control. 2017;82:227–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Patel KS, Shrivas K, Brandt R, Jakubowski N, Corns W, Hoffmann P. Arsenic contamination in water, soil, sediment and rice of central India. Environ Geochem Health. 2005;27:131–45.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Kingsle GR, Getchell G. Serum iron determination. Clin Chem. 1956;2:175–83.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Shrivas K, Wu HF. Applications of silver nanoparticles capped with different functional groups as the matrix and affinity probes in surface-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight and atmospheric pressure matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization ion trap mass spectrometry for rapid analysis of sulfur drugs and biothiols in human urine. Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2008;22:2863–72.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Thatai S, Khurana P, Prasad S, Kumar D. A new way in nanosensors: gold nanorods for sensing of Fe(III) ions in aqueous media. Microchem J. 2014;113:77–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Ganesharajah M, Koneswaran M. Citrate capped silver nanoparticles as optical sensor for ferric ions. Int J Nano Med Eng. 2018;3:63–70.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Jiang Z, Xie J, Jiang D, Wei X, Chen M. Modifiers-assisted formation of nickel nanoparticles and their catalytic application to p-nitrophenol reduction. CrystEngComm. 2013;15:560–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Frosta RL, Xi Y, Scholz R, Lopez A, Granja A. Infrared and Raman spectroscopic characterisation of the sulphate mineral creedite—Ca3Al2SO4(F,OH)·2H2O—and in comparison with the alums. Spectrochim Acta Part A. 2013;109:201–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Basiria S, Mehdinia A, Jabbari A. A sensitive triple colorimetric sensor based on plasmonic response quenching of green synthesized silver nanoparticles for determination of Fe2+, hydrogen peroxide, and glucose. Colloids Surf A Physicochem Eng Asp. 2018;545:138–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Christian GD. Analytical chemistry, 6th edn. New Delhi: Wiley India; 2007. p. 1–856.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kamlesh Shrivas
    • 1
    Email author
  • Monisha
    • 1
  • Tushar Kant
    • 1
  • Indrapal Karbhal
    • 1
  • Ramsingh Kurrey
    • 1
  • Bhuneshwari Sahu
    • 1
  • Deepak Sinha
    • 2
  • Goutam Kumar Patra
    • 3
  • Manas Kanti Deb
    • 1
  • Shamsh Pervez
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Studies in ChemistryPt. Ravishanakar Shukla UniversityRaipurIndia
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryGovernment Nagarjuna Post Graduate College of ScienceRaipurIndia
  3. 3.Department of ChemistryGuru Ghasidas VishwavidyalayaBilaspurIndia

Personalised recommendations