Microchimica Acta

, Volume 181, Issue 15–16, pp 1957–1963 | Cite as

Probing phosphate ion via the europium(III)-modulated fluorescence of gold nanoclusters

  • Shou-Nian DingEmail author
  • Chun-Mei Li
  • Bu-Hong Gao
  • Osman Kargbo
  • Neng Wan
  • Xi Chen
  • Chan Zhou
Original Paper


Fluorescent gold nanoclusters (Au-NCs) were synthesized by a one-pot method using 11-mercaptoundecanoic acid as a reducing and capping reagent. It is found that the red fluorescence of the Au-NCs is quenched by the introduction of Eu(III) at pH 7.0, but that fluorescence is restored on addition of phosphate. The Au-NCs were investigated by transmission electron microscopy and fluorescence photographs. The effect of pH on fluorescence was studied in the range from pH 6 to 10 and is found to be strong. Based on these findings, we have developed an assay for phosphate. Ions such as citrate, Fe(CN)6 3−, SO4 2−, S2O8 2−, Cl, HS, Br, AcO, NO2 , SCN, ClO4 , HCO3 , NO3 , Cd2+, Ba2+, Zn2+, Mg2+, and glutamate do not interfere, but ascorbate and Fe3+ can quench Au-NCs fluorescence. The fluorescent nanocluster probe responds to phosphate in the range from 0.18 to 250 μM, and the detection limit is 180 nM. The probe also responds to pyrophosphate and ATP.


Off/on fluorescence sensor for phosphate based on Eu3+-modulated Au NCs thanks to the competition of oxygen-donor atoms from phosphate with those from the carboxylate groups was developed


Fluorescence Au nanoclusters Eu3+ Phosphate 



This work was supported by the Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 21345008, 61370042), the Open Research Fund of State Key Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry for Life Science (SKLACLS1211) and the Open Research Fund of State Key Laboratory of Bioelectronics, Southeast University.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shou-Nian Ding
    • 1
    Email author
  • Chun-Mei Li
    • 1
  • Bu-Hong Gao
    • 1
  • Osman Kargbo
    • 1
  • Neng Wan
    • 2
  • Xi Chen
    • 1
  • Chan Zhou
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Chemistry and Chemical EngineeringSoutheast UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.SEU-FEI Nano-Pico Center, Key Laboratory of MEMS of Ministry of Education, School of Electrical Science and EngineeringSoutheast UniversityNanjingChina

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