Nitrite ion-induced fluorescence quenching of luminescent BSA-Au25 nanoclusters: mechanism and application†
Fluorescence quenching is an interesting phenomenon which is highly useful in developing fluorescence based sensors. A thorough understanding of the fluorescence quenching mechanism is essential to develop efficient sensors. In this work, we investigate different aspects governing the nitrite ion-induced fluorescence quenching of luminescent bovine serum albumin stabilized gold nanoclusters (BSA-Au NCs) and their application for detection of nitrite in urine. The probable events leading to photoluminescence (PL) quenching by nitrite ions were discussed on the basis of the results obtained from ultraviolet-visible (UV-Vis) absorption spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), fluorescence measurements, circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy, zeta potential and dynamic light scattering (DLS) studies. These studies suggested that PL quenching mainly occurred through the oxidation of Au(0) atoms to Au(I) atoms in the core of BSA-Au NCs mediated by nitrite ions. The interference caused by certain species such as Hg2+, Cu2+, CN−, S2−, glutathione, cysteine, etc. during the nitrite determination by fluorescence quenching was eliminated by using masking agents and optimising the conditions. Based on these findings we proposed a BSA-Au NC-modified membrane based sensor which would be more convenient for the real life applications such as nitrite detection in urine samples. The BSA-Au NC-modified nitrocellulose membrane (NCM) enabled the detection of nitrite at a level as low as 100 nM in aqueous solutions. This Au NC-based paper probe was validated to exhibit good performance for nitrite analysis in environmental water and urine samples, which makes it useful in practical applications.