Efficient ratiometric fluorescence probe based on dual-emission quantum dots hybrid for on-site determination of copper ions

Jianlei Yao, Kui Zhang, Houjuan Zhu, Fang Ma, Mingtai Sun, Huan Yu, Jian Sun, Suhua Wang
Analytical Chemistry 2013 July 2, 85 (13): 6461-8
Of various chemosensory protocols, the color change observed by the naked eye is considered to be a conceivable and on-site way to indicate the presence of an analyte. We herein designed a ratiometric fluorescence probe by hybridizing dual-emission quantum dots (QDs) and demonstrated its efficiency for on-site visual determination of copper ions. The hybrid probe comprises two sizes of cadmium telluride QDs emitting red and green fluorescence, respectively, in which the red-emitting ones are embedded in silica nanoparticles and the green-emitting ones are covalently linked onto the surface. The fluorescence of the embedded QDs is insensitive to the analyte, whereas the green emissive QDs are functionalized to be selectively quenched by the analyte. Upon exposure to different amounts of copper ions, the variations of the dual emission intensity ratios display continuous color changes from green to red, which can be clearly observed by the naked eye. The limit of detection for copper is estimated to be 1.1 nM, much lower than the allowable level of copper (~20 μM) in drinking water set by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The probe is demonstrated for the determination of copper ions in lake water and mineral water samples, especially for visually monitoring copper residues on herb leaves. This prototype ratiometric probe is simple, fully self-contained, and thus potentially attractive for visual identification without the need for elaborate equipment.

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