Hybrid CuCoO–GO enables ultrasensitive detection of antibiotics with enhanced laser desorption/ionization at nano-interfaces
The soaring concerns globally on antibiotic overuse have made calls for the development of rapid and sensitive detection methods urgent. Here we report that the hybrid CuCoO–GO matrix allows for sensitive detection of various antibiotics in combination with MALDI TOF MS. The new matrix is composed of few-layered GO nanosheets decorated with CuCoO nanoparticles with an average size of 10 nm, and exhibits excellent aqueous suspensibility. Accurate quantitation of the sulfonamide antibiotics in milk samples have been demonstrated using a CuCoO–GO matrix and a stable isotope (C13)-labeled analyte as the internal standard. Our experiments have achieved lower limits of detection (LOD) by several hundred fold for the detection of a panel of representative antibiotics, in comparison with the literature reports. Both intrabacterial and extrabacterial residual antibiotics can be sensitively detected with our method. We have further investigated the molecular mechanism of the enhanced desorption/ionization efficiency by the CuCoO–GO matrix with synchrotron radiation techniques for the first time. This work provides a sensitive matrix enabling MALDI-TOF MS to be applied in small molecular analysis, but also presents a distinct perspective on the mechanism behind the material functions.