Multiplexed paper analytical device for quantification of metals using distance-based detection†
Exposure to metal-containing aerosols has been linked with adverse health outcomes for almost every organ in the human body. Commercially available techniques for quantifying particulate metals are time-intensive, laborious, and expensive; often sample analysis exceeds $100. We report a simple technique, based upon a distance-based detection motif, for quantifying metal concentrations of Ni, Cu, and Fe in airborne particulate matter using microfluidic paper-based analytical devices. Paper substrates are used to create sensors that are self-contained, self-timing, and require only a drop of sample for operation. Unlike other colorimetric approaches in paper microfluidics that rely on optical instrumentation for analysis, with distance-based detection, analyte is quantified visually based on the distance of a colorimetric reaction, similar to reading temperature on a thermometer. To demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach, Ni, Cu, and Fe were measured individually in single-channel devices; detection limits as low as 0.1, 0.1, and 0.05 μg were reported for Ni, Cu, and Fe. Multiplexed analysis of all three metals was achieved with detection limits of 1, 5, and 1 μg for Ni, Cu, and Fe. We also extended the dynamic range for multi-analyte detection by printing concentration gradients of colorimetric reagents using an off-the-shelf inkjet printer. Analyte selectivity was demonstrated for common interferences. To demonstrate utility of the method, Ni, Cu, and Fe were measured from samples of certified welding fume; levels measured with paper sensors matched known values determined gravimetrically.