Optofluidic differential colorimetry for rapid nitrite determination
Nitrite detection plays a very important role in environmental monitoring and for industrial purposes. The commonly used colorimetric analysis requires the measurement of a system's calibration curve by asynchronously preparing and detecting a dozen standard samples, leading to time-consuming, slow and cumbersome procedures. Here, we present a differential colorimetry method that determines the nitrite level based on the paired chromaticity gradient, formed by coupling the colour reaction into the microfluidic network. The two gradients reshape each other and contain enough information for the quantitative analysis of the sample being tested, without the need for a calibration curve. The independence of the two gradients of the absorbance change caused by the detecting system and water quality results in a high stability and anti-interference performance, with the assistance of its self-correcting ability. This differential colorimetry method requires little time and energy consumption as only one sample is needed. Standard nitrite solutions of 0.50 mM and 0.33 mM have been determined with an error of 1.16% and 0.50%, respectively. These measurements are advantageous in terms of greater stability by up to 10 times and accuracy by 6 times, compared with the calibration curve approaches. It is foreseeable that this differential colorimetry method will find a wide range of applications in the field of chemical detection.