Fabrication of an “ion-imprinting” dual-emission quantum dot nanohybrid for selective fluorescence turn-on and ratiometric detection of cadmium ions†
In this work, we have fabricated a new dual-emission quantum dot (QD) nanohybrid for fluorescence ratiometric determination of cadmium ions (Cd2+) in water samples, where the “turn-on” model and “ion-imprinting” technique were incorporated simultaneously. The nanohybrid probe was composed of green-emitting CdSe QDs covalently linked onto the surface of silica nanoparticles embedded with red-emitting CdTe QDs. The chemical etching of ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA) at the surface produced specific Cd2+ recognition sites and quenched the green fluorescence of outer CdSe QDs. Upon exposure to different amounts of Cd2+, the green fluorescence was gradually restored, whereas the inner red fluorescence remained constant. As a consequence, an obviously distinguishable fluorescence color variation (from red to green) of the probe solution was observed. Under the optimized conditions, the developed ratiometric sensor displayed a linear response range from 0.1 to 9 μM with a detection limit of 25 nM (S/N = 3) for Cd2+, which could offer an alternative sensing approach for the highly sensitive and selective detection of heavy metal ions.