Microchimica Acta

, 186:442 | Cite as

Europium(III) modified silicone nanoparticles for ultrasensitive visual determination of tetracyclines by employing a fluorescence color switch

  • Bixia Lin
  • Tingyun Zhang
  • Xiaolan Xin
  • Duo Wu
  • Yan Huang
  • Yawen Liu
  • Yujuan Cao
  • Manli Guo
  • Ying YuEmail author
Original Paper


Silicon nanoparticles (SiNPs) modified with Eu(III) were synthesized and are shown to be a viable ratiometric fluorescent probe for tetracycline antibiotics. SiNPs/Eu under 405 nm excitation display two emissions, viz. a strong cyan colored fluorescence peaking at 497 nm and a weak pink fluorescence peaking at 622 nm. On addition of tetracyclines (chlortetracycline, tetracycline, doxycycline), the fluorescence at 497 nm is reduced, while the one at 622 nm is increased. Thus, the visible color of fluorescence changes from cyan to pink. This was exploited to design ratiometric fluorometric method for detecting tetracyclines. The method has a limit of detection that is lower by a factor of about 1000 when compared to the use of SiNPs only. A test paper was prepared with the SiNPs/Eu and then applied for the visual semi-quantitative detection of tetracyclines. With the addition of tetracyclines, the test paper exhibited a dosage-sensitive color conversion from cyan to pink with a visually discernible scale as low as 0.4 μM.

Graphical abstract

Tetracyclines decrease the fluorescence at 497 nm of europium (III) modified silicon nanoparticles (SiNPs/Eu) due to the inner filter effect and increase the one at 622 nm due to an antenna effect. Thus the fluorescence color of SiNPs/Eu changes from cyan to pink. Based on this color switch, a ultrasensitive and visual determination strategy for tetracyclines is proposed.


Double emission Inner filter effect Antenna effect Chlortetracycline Tetracycline Doxycycline Test paper Semi-quantitative detection 



The work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 21575043, 21275056, 21605052, 51478196); and the Platform Construction Project of Guangzhou Science Technology and Innovation Commission (No. 15180001).

Compliance with ethical standards

The author(s) declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

604_2019_3557_MOESM1_ESM.doc (679 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 679 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Chemistry and Environment, Guangzhou Key Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry for BiomedicineSouth China Normal UniversityGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China

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