Microchimica Acta

, 186:632 | Cite as

L-Cysteine modified gold nanoparticles for tube-based fluorometric determination of mercury(II) ions

  • Xiaoming Ma
  • Zhen Wang
  • Shan He
  • Jingyi Zhao
  • Xiaoqi LaiEmail author
  • Jianguo XuEmail author
Original Paper


A fluorescent probe is described for detection of mercury(II) ion by using L-cysteine-modified gold nanoparticles (Cys-AuNP). These were fabricated by a tube-based redox reaction where Cys acts as both the reducing reagent and capping ligand. The Cys-AuNP display red fluorescence, with excitation/emission peaks at 373/625 nm. Owing to the high-affinity of the Hg(II)–Au(I) interaction and the Hg(II)/carboxy or amino group interaction, the presence of Hg(II) cause selective quenching the fluorescence, while other metal ions do not give such an effect. Based on these findings, a method was designed for the determination of Hg(II) that has attractive figures of merit. These include a low limit of detection (1.3 nM), a wide detection range (from 2 nM to 30µM), and excellent specificity. The method was applied to Hg(II) screening in (spiked) tap and river water, and it gave satisfactory results.

Graphical abstract

Schematic representation of the application of L-cysteine modified gold nanoparticles (Cys-AuNP) for qualitative and quantitative detection of mercury(II) ions. Based on the interaction between Cys-AuNP and mercury(II) ion to quench the red fluorescence of Cys-AuNP, the target mercury(II) can in turn be determined by a fluorometric method.


Nanotechnology Luminescent materials Nanomaterial synthesis One-step detection Mercury(II) detection Fluorescence signaling Signal-off Red fluorescence Fluorescence quenching Heavy metal ion 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 21804022 and 21804028), the Anhui Provincial Natural Science Foundation (Grant NO. 1908085QC121), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities of China (Grant NO. JZ2019HGTB0068), the Science and Technology Project of the Education Department of Jiangxi Province of China (Grant No. GJJ170846), and the Special Graduate Student Innovation Fund of Jiangxi Province (Grant No. YCX18B005). Special thanks to the Open Project of State Key Laboratory of Chemo/Biosensing and Chemometrics (Grant No. 201806) at Hunan University.

Compliance with ethical standards

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

Supplementary material

604_2019_3734_MOESM1_ESM.docx (210 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 209 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 Chemical EngineeringGannan Normal UniversityGanzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.School of Food and Biological EngineeringHefei University of TechnologyHefeiPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Chemo/Biosensing and ChemometricsHunan UniversityChangshaPeople’s Republic of China

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