Preparation of graphene quantum dots based core-satellite hybrid spheres and their use as the ratiometric fluorescence probe for visual determination of mercury(II) ions

Mengjuan Hua, Chengquan Wang, Jing Qian, Kan Wang, Zhenting Yang, Qian Liu, Hanping Mao, Kun Wang
Analytica Chimica Acta 2015 August 12, 888: 173-81
We herein proposed a simple and effective strategy for preparing graphene quantum dots (GQDs)-based core-satellite hybrid spheres and further explored the feasibility of using such spheres as the ratiometric fluorescence probe for the visual determination of Hg(2+). The red-emitting CdTe QDs were firstly entrapped in the silica nanosphere to reduce their toxicity and improve their photo and chemical stabilities, thus providing a built-in correction for environmental effects, while the GQDs possessing good biocompatibility and low toxicity were electrostatic self-assembly on the silica surface acting as reaction sites. Upon exposure to the increasing contents of Hg(2+), the blue fluorescence of GQDs can be gradually quenched presumably due to facilitating nonradiative electron/hole recombination annihilation. With the embedded CdTe QDs as the internal standard, the variations of the tested solution display continuous fluorescence color changes from blue to red, which can be easily observed by the naked eye without any sophisticated instrumentations and specially equipped laboratories. This sensor exhibits high sensitivity and selectivity toward Hg(2+) in a broad linear range of 10 nM-22 μM with a low detection limit of 3.3 nM (S/N = 3), much lower than the allowable Hg(2+) contents in drinking water set by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This prototype ratiometric probe is of good simplicity, low toxicity, excellent stabilities, and thus potentially attractive for Hg(2+) quantification related biological systems.

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