Microchimica Acta

, 185:235 | Cite as

Colorimetric detection of Hg(II) by measurement the color alterations from the “before” and “after” RGB images of etched triangular silver nanoplates

  • Li Li
  • Laiping Zhang
  • Yan Zhao
  • Zhengbo Chen
Original Paper


It is shown that triangular silver nanoplates (TAgNPs) are viable colorimetric probes for the fast, sensitive and selective detection of Hg(II). Detection is accomplished by reducing Hg(II) ions to elemental Hg so that an Ag/Hg amalgam is formed on the surface of the TAgNPs. This leads to the inhibition of the etching TAgNPs by chloride ions. Correspondingly, a distinct color transition can be observed that goes from yellow to brown, purple, and blue. The color alterations extracted from the red, green, and blue part of digital (RGB) images can be applied to the determination of Hg(II). The relationship between the Euclidean distances (EDs), i.e. the square roots of the sums of the squares of the ΔRGB values, vary in the 5 nM to 100 nM Hg(II) concentration range, and the limit of detection is as low as 0.35 nM. The color changes also allow for a visual estimation of the concentrations of Hg(II). The method is simple in that it only requires a digital camera for data acquisition and a Photoshop software for extracting RGB variations and data processing.

Graphical abstract

Hg2+ detection was achieved by anti-etching of TAgNPs caused by the formation of silver amalgam, along with vivid multicolor variations from yellow to brown, purple, and eventually to be blue.


Triangular silver nanoplates Mercury ions Colorimetric probe RGB images Digital camera Photoshop software Euclidean distance 



All authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of Scientific Research Project of Beijing Educational Committee (Grant No. KM201710028009).

Compliance with ethical standards

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

Supplementary material

604_2018_2759_MOESM1_ESM.doc (530 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 530 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Chemistry and Chemical EngineeringXinxiang UniversityXinxiangChina
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryCapital Normal UniversityBeijingChina

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