Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 411, Issue 11, pp 2291–2300 | Cite as

2,4,6-Trinitrophenol detection by a new portable sensing gadget using carbon dots as a fluorescent probe

  • Bin ChenEmail author
  • Shuiqin Chai
  • Jiahui Liu
  • Chuanjun Liu
  • Yanjie Li
  • Jiahui He
  • Zeping Yu
  • Tong Yang
  • Changhao Feng
  • Chengzhi HuangEmail author
Research Paper


An optical sensing gadget using fluorescence of carbon dots (CDs) was developed to realize the in-field detection of 2,4,6-trinitrophenol (TNP) in tap water and lake water samples. Fluorescent CDs were prepared through a one-step hydrothermal synthetic route. The fluorescence spectra demonstrated that the CDs could specifically discriminate TNP from other nitroaromatic explosives in an aqueous medium. The fluorescence of the CDs was quenched linearly with the concentration of TNP in the range from 1 to 100 μM, with a detection limit of 0.48 μM (3σ/k). The detection mechanism was ascribed to the synergistic effect of the inner filter effect and electron transfer. In addition, a portable sensing gadget based on a high-precision RGB color sensor and a micro control unit was developed. With use of the sensing gadget and the CDs, TNP detection in tap water and lake water samples was realized. Importantly, the portable sensing gadget combined with highly stable, low-toxicity, and sensitive CDs might have great potential for application in extensive in-field sensing situations.

Graphical abstract

Carbon dots synthesized with 4-(diethylamino)salicylaldehyde as the initial material were used for 2,4,6-trinitrophenol (TNP) detection. TNP quenches the fluorescence of carbon dots, and the mechanism is ascribed to the synergistic effect of the inner filter effect and electron transfer. A portable sensing gadget based on a 32-bit micro control unit was successfully applied for in-field TNP detection


Portable sensing gadget Fluorescence analysis Carbon dots 2,4,6-Trinitrophenol detection 



This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no. 21535006, grant no. 61801400, and grant no. 61703348), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (grant no. XDJK2018C021, and Japan Society for the Promotion of Science KAKENHI (grant no. JP18F18392).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

216_2019_1670_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (588 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 588 kb)


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bin Chen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Shuiqin Chai
    • 2
  • Jiahui Liu
    • 2
  • Chuanjun Liu
    • 3
  • Yanjie Li
    • 2
  • Jiahui He
    • 2
  • Zeping Yu
    • 1
  • Tong Yang
    • 2
  • Changhao Feng
    • 1
  • Chengzhi Huang
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Luminescent and Real-Time Analytical Chemistry (Southwest University) Ministry of Education, Chongqing, College of Electronic and Information EngineeringSouthwest UniversityChongqingChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Luminescent and Real-Time Analytical Chemistry (Southwest University) Ministry of Education, College of Pharmaceutical SciencesSouthwest UniversityChongqingChina
  3. 3.Department of Electronics, Graduate School of Information Science and Electrical EngineeringKyushu UniversityFukuokaJapan

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