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GLRPPR Sector Resource: Gold Nanoparticles Help Detect a Toxic Metal: Mercury

Gold Nanoparticles Help Detect a Toxic Metal: Mercury

Using gold nanoparticles, scientists at Northwestern University have developed a simple "litmus test" for mercury that eventually could be used for on-the-spot monitoring of waterbodies to evaluate their safety as drinking water sources. An article detailing the colorimetric screening technology and its success detecting mercury was published online April 27 by Angewandte Chemie, a European journal of applied chemistry. Chad A. Mirkin, George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry, professor of medicine and professor of materials science and engineering, led the study. The researchers report that they were able to determine by simple visual inspection if a solvated mercuric ion was present in each sample tested and, if so, in what amount. As an illustration of the method's selectivity, they also could differentiate mercury from other metals with similar binding mechanisms, such as cadmium and copper. The method also is highly sensitive, capable of detecting mercuric ions at the 100 nanomolar level.


Northwestern University

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Date of Publication:
April 27, 2007

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