Macroporous perovskite nanocrystal composites for ultrasensitive copper ion detection†
Accumulation of heavy metal ions, including copper ions (Cu2+), presents a serious threat to human health and to the environment. A substantial amount of research has focused on detecting such species in aqueous solutions. However, progress towards ultrasensitive and easy-to-use sensors for non-aqueous solutions is still limited. Here, we focus on the detection of copper species in hexane, realising ultra-sensitive detection through a fluorescence-based approach. To achieve this, a novel macroporous composite material has been developed featuring luminescent CsPbBr3 nanocrystals (NCs) chemically adhered to a polymerized high internal phase emulsion (polyHIPE) substrate through surface thiol groups. Due to this thiol functionality, sub-monolayer NC formation is realised, which also renders outstanding stability of the composite in the ambient environment. Copper detection is achieved through a direct solution based immersion of the CsPbBr3-(SH)polyHIPE composite, which results in concentration-dependent quenching of the NC photoluminescence. This newly developed sensor has a limit of detection (LOD) for copper as low as 1 × 10−16 M, and a wide operating window spanning 10−2 to 10−16 M. Moreover, the composite exhibits excellent selectivity among different transition metals.