Visual and colorimetric detection of mercury(II) ion using gold nanoparticles stabilized with a dithia-diaza ligand
We have developed a simple method for the highly selective colorimetric detection of dissolved mercury(II) ions via direct formation of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs). The dithia-diaza ligand 2-[3-(2-amino-ethylsulfanyl)-propylsulfanyl]-ethylamine (AEPE) was used as a stabilizer to protect AuNPs from aggregation and to impart highly selective recognition of Hg(II) ion over other metal ions. A solution of Au(III) ion is directly reduced by sodium borohydride in the presence of AEPE and the detergent Triton X-100. This results in the formation of AEPE-AuNPs and a red coloration of the solution. On the other hand, in the presence of Hg(II), the solution turns blue within a few seconds after the addition of borohydride. This can be detected spectrophotometrically or even visually. The method was successfully applied to quantify Hg(II) levels in water sample, with a minimum detectable concentration as low as 35 nM.
KeywordsGold nanoparticle Mercury(II) Dithia-diaza ligand Colorimetric detection Naked-eye