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Issue 10, 2014
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Protein-templated gold nanoclusters sequestered within sol–gel thin films for the selective and ratiometric luminescence recognition of Hg2+

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Abstract

Sequestration of bovine serum albumin (BSA)-stabilized gold nanoclusters (AuNCs@BSA) prepared using microwave assistance within sol–gel-derived mesoporous silica films permits the selective and highly sensitive quenchometric detection of aqueous Hg2+ (limit of detection = 600 pM) with luminescence signal arising from oxidized BSA allowing for an analytically robust and reliable ratiometric detection. Overall, this work highlights a number of important advances, including the highest luminescence quantum yield reported to date for a protein-templated luminescent noble metal nanocluster (13%) made possible using a microwave-mediated synthesis followed by cold incubation. We also demonstrate the clear advantage of exploiting the luminescence signal arising from oxidized BSA as an internal reference to generate selectivity of response to Hg2+. A careful Stern–Volmer quenching analysis reveals the persistence of two unique quenching sites for AuNCs@BSA entrapped within a sol–gel-derived glass, a minor population of which is unquenchable. Finally, based on these AuNCs@BSA nanosensors, we advise a path forward for paper-based indicator strip detection of heavy metals in aqueous streams, the implementation of which can be performed using the unaided eye, making it a meaningful approach for routine screening and in resource-limited situations.

Graphical abstract: Protein-templated gold nanoclusters sequestered within sol–gel thin films for the selective and ratiometric luminescence recognition of Hg2+

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Publication details

The article was received on 01 Feb 2014, accepted on 22 Mar 2014 and first published on 31 Mar 2014


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C4NR00610K
Citation: Nanoscale, 2014,6, 5425-5431
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    Protein-templated gold nanoclusters sequestered within sol–gel thin films for the selective and ratiometric luminescence recognition of Hg2+

    C. M. Hofmann, J. B. Essner, G. A. Baker and S. N. Baker, Nanoscale, 2014, 6, 5425
    DOI: 10.1039/C4NR00610K

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