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Issue 6, 2009
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Activated gold surfaces for the direct preconcentration of mercury species from natural waters

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Abstract

This paper describes for the first time the mechanism of adsorption of different dissolved mercury species onto gold surfaces directly from aqueous solutions. The surface morphology of the gold collector is critical for the adsorption behaviour of the different mercury species. Smooth gold surfaces selectively trap elemental mercury (Hg0), whereas nano-structured gold surfaces quantitatively retain all dissolved mercury species (Hg0, Hg2+, and MeHg+) from aqueous solutions. The mechanism of Hg2+ and MeHg+ adsorption can be explained by the catalytic activity of the nano-structured gold surface, whereas Hg0 adsorption is an amalgamation process. Nano-structured gold surfaces can easily be generated from gold collectors with smooth surfaces by adsorbing and thermally desorbing Hg0. Both types of gold collectors, selective collectors (smooth surface) for species specific trapping of Hg0 and active collectors (nano-structured) for the preconcentration of all Hg species can be used for quantitative analysis with recoveries of 97.0 ± 6.8% in ocean water after thermal desorption at 700 °C and atomic fluorescence spectrometric detection. This preconcentration method for the determination of total dissolved mercury in natural waters offers significant advantages over existing methods because no reagents are needed for sample pre-treatment, preconcentration or desorption and therefore the risk of contamination is minimized and blank values are lowered. This results in low detection limits for Hg2+ and MeHg+ of 101 pg L−1 and 144 pg L−1, respectively, using a sample volume of only 7 mL, and good reproducibility, with uncertainties less than 3.7% (n = 5). In addition the preparation of the active phases is very straightforward.

Graphical abstract: Activated gold surfaces for the direct preconcentration of mercury species from natural waters

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Publication details

The article was received on 20 Nov 2008, accepted on 13 Feb 2009 and first published on 12 Mar 2009


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/B820701A
Citation: J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2009,24, 767-774
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    Activated gold surfaces for the direct preconcentration of mercury species from natural waters

    A. Zierhut, K. Leopold, L. Harwardt, P. Worsfold and M. Schuster, J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2009, 24, 767
    DOI: 10.1039/B820701A

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