Ultrasensitive detection of toxic cations through changes in the tunnelling current across films of striped nanoparticles

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Although multiple methods have been developed to detect metal cations, only a few offer sensitivities below 1 pM, and many require complicated procedures and sophisticated equipment. Here, we describe a class of simple solid-state sensors for the ultrasensitive detection of heavy-metal cations (notably, an unprecedented attomolar limit for the detection of CH3Hg+ in both standardized solutions and environmental samples) through changes in the tunnelling current across films of nanoparticles (NPs) protected with striped monolayers of organic ligands. The sensors are also highly selective because of the ligand-shell organization of the NPs. On binding of metal cations, the electronic structure of the molecular bridges between proximal NPs changes, the tunnelling current increases and highly conductive paths ultimately percolate the entire film. The nanoscale heterogeneity of the structure of the film broadens the range of the cation-binding constants, which leads to wide sensitivity ranges (remarkably, over 18 orders of magnitude in CH3Hg+ concentration).
Publisher
NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP
Issue Date
2012-11
Language
English
Article Type
Article
Keywords

MONOLAYER-PROTECTED NANOPARTICLES; SELF-ASSEMBLED MONOLAYERS; METAL NANOPARTICLES; QUANTITATIVE ASSESSMENT; GOLD NANOPARTICLES; MINAMATA DISEASE; AQUEOUS-SOLUTION; MERCURY; WATER; TRANSPORT

Citation

NATURE MATERIALS, v.11, no.11, pp.978 - 985

ISSN
1476-1122
DOI
10.1038/NMAT3406
URI
http://hdl.handle.net/10203/221033
Appears in Collection
CBE-Journal Papers(저널논문)
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