General design of optical chemical nanosensors is needed to develop efficient sensing systems with high flexibility, and low capital cost for control recognition of toxic analytes. Here, we designed optical chemical nanosensors for simple, high-speed detection of multiple toxic metal ions. The systematic design of the nanosensors was based on densely patterned chromophores with intrinsic mobility, namely, "building-blocks" onto three-dimensional (3D) nanoscale structures. The ability to precisely modify the nanoscale pore surfaces by using a broad range of chromophores that have different molecular sizes and characteristics enables detection of multiple toxic ions. A key feature of this building-blocks design strategy is that the surface functionality and good adsorption characteristics of the fabricated nanosensor arrays enabled the development of "pool-on-surface" sensing systems in which high flux of the metal analytes across the probe molecules was achieved without significant kinetic hindrance. Such a sensing design enabled sensitive recognition of metal ions up to sub-picomolar detection limits (∼10-11 mol dm-3), for first time, with rapid response time within few seconds. Moreover, because these sensing pools exhibited long-term stability, reversibility and selectivity in detecting most pollutant cations, for example, Cr(VI), Pb(II), Co(II), and Pd(II) ions, they are practical and inexpensive. The key result in our study is that the pool-on-surface design for optical nanosensors exhibited significant ion-selective ability of these target ions from environmental samples and waste disposals.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)