Microchimica Acta

, 186:736 | Cite as

A fluorometric method for mercury(II) detection based on the use of pyrophosphate-modified carbon quantum dots

  • Qianqian Duan
  • Xiaoyuan Wang
  • Boye Zhang
  • Yi Li
  • Wendong Zhang
  • Yixia ZhangEmail author
  • Shengbo SangEmail author
Original Paper


Pyrophosphate-modified carbon quantum dots (PP-CDs) are demonstrated to be a viable fluorescent nanoprobe for mercury(II) (Hg2+) detection. Hg2+ reacts with the pyrophosphate groups on the surface of PP-CDs to form a non-fluorescent complex. This results in quenching of the green fluorescence which has excitation/emission peaks at 400/513 nm. Static quenching is shown to be the dominant mechanism. The probe works in 0.1 μM to 1.4 μM Hg2+ concentration range, and the limit of detection is 2 nM. The PP-CDs were also used to visualize Hg2+ inside human hepatocyte LO2 cells.

Graphical abstract

Schematic representation of pyrophosphate-modified carbon quantum dots (CDs) for selective and sensitive fluorometric determination of mercury(II). Hg(II) quenches the blue fluorescence of the CDs, and glutathione restores it. The method was used to detect Hg(II) in spiked tap water and inside cells.


Pyrophosphate-modification Carbon quantum dots Hg2+ detection Fluorescent nanoprobe Fluorescence quenching Cells imaging 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51505324, 51622507, 81602506), Basic Research Program of Shanxi for Youths (201701D221111), Scientific and Technologial Innovation Programs of Higher Education Institutions in Shanxi (201802036).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

604_2019_3872_MOESM1_ESM.doc (3.2 mb)
ESM 1 (DOC 3.16 MB)


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Micro-Nano System Research Centre & Key Lab of Advanced Transducers and Intelligent Control System of the Ministry of Education, College of Information and ComputerTaiyuan University of TechnologyTaiyuanChina
  2. 2.Theranostic Macromolecules Research Center, School of Chemical EngineeringSungkyunkwan UniversitySuwonRepublic of Korea
  3. 3.College of Biomedical EngineeringTaiyuan University of TechnologyTaiyuanChina

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