Design and development of amperometric biosensor for the detection of lead and mercury ions in water matrix—a permeability approach

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Intake of water contaminated with lead (Pb2+) and mercury (Hg2+) ions leads to various toxic effects and health issues. In this context, an amperometric urease inhibition-based biosensor was developed to detect Pb2+ and Hg2+ ions in water matrix. The modified Pt/CeO2/urease electrode was fabricated by immobilizing CeO2 nanoparticles and urease using a semi-permeable adsorption layer of nafion. With urea as a substrate, urease catalytic activity was examined through cyclic voltammetry. Further, maximum amperometric inhibitive response of the modified Pt/CeO2/urease electrode was observed in the presence of Pb2+ and Hg2+ ions due to the urease inhibition at specific potentials of −0.03 and 0 V, respectively. The developed sensor exhibited a detection limit of 0.019 ± 0.001 μM with a sensitivity of 89.2 × 10−3 μA μM−1 for Pb2+ ions. A detection limit of 0.018 ± 0.003 with a sensitivity of 94.1 × 10−3 μA μM−1 was achieved in detecting Hg2+ ions. The developed biosensor showed a fast response time (<1 s) with a linear range of 0.5–2.2 and 0.02–0.8 μM for Pb2+ and Hg2+ ions, respectively. The modified electrode offered a good stability for 20 days with a good repeatability and reproducibility. The developed sensor was used to detect Pb2+ and Hg2+ ions contaminating Cauvery river water and the observed results were in good co-ordination with atomic absorption spectroscopic data.

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The authors are grateful to the Department of Science & Technology, New Delhi for their financial support (DST/TM/WTI/2K14/197(a)(G)), (SR/FST/ETI-284/2011 (C)), (SR/FST/LSI-453/2010) and (SR/NM/PG-16/2007). We also acknowledge SASTRA University, Thanjavur for extending infrastructure support to carry out the study.

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Correspondence to John Bosco Balaguru Rayappan.

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Gumpu, M.B., Krishnan, U.M. & Rayappan, J.B.B. Design and development of amperometric biosensor for the detection of lead and mercury ions in water matrix—a permeability approach. Anal Bioanal Chem 409, 4257–4266 (2017).

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  • Amperometry
  • Urease
  • Enzyme inhibition
  • Metal ions
  • Lead and mercury