A fluorimetric test strip with suppressed “Coffee Ring Effect” for selective mercury ion analysis†
Nowadays, test strips are widely applied, but their use is mostly limited to the qualitative or half-quantitative analysis of targets. The main reason for their limited use is the “Coffee Ring Effect” (CRE) of probe materials, which leads to a heterogeneous probe distribution and poor testing reproducibility and sensitivity. In the present work, a fluorescent test strip was fabricated with a suppressed CRE of silver nanocluster (AgNC) probes coated by gelatin (Gel) under vacuum-aided fast lyophilization. Uniform and stable deposition of AgNC probes was achieved onto the test strips with a high loading capacity. The AgNCs displayed specific responses to Hg2+ ions, allowing sensitive and quantitative analysis in the linear concentration ranges from 0.20 to 50000 nM with a limit of detection of 0.10 nM. Given the advantages of rapid and facile preparation, CRE suppression, high biocompatibility, and cost-effectiveness, such a fabrication protocol may pave the way for the design of various test strips-based devices for point-of-care analytical applications in the fields of environmental monitoring, food quality analysis, and clinical diagnostics.