A novel nanohybrid ratiometric fluorescence sensor is developed for selective detection of mercuric ions (Hg2+), and the application has been successfully demonstrated in HEPES buffer solution, lake water, and living cells. The sensor comprises water-soluble fluorescent carbon nanoparticles (CNPs) and Rhodamine B (RhB) and exhibits their corresponding dual emissions peaked at 437 and 575 nm, respectively, under a single excitation wavelength (350 nm). The photoluminescence of the CNPs in the nanohybrid system can be completely quenched by Hg2+ through effective electron or energy transfer process due to synergetic strong electrostatic interaction and metal-ligand coordination between the surface functional group of CNPs and Hg2+, while that of the RhB remains constant. This results in an obviously distinguishable fluorescence color variation (from violet to orange) of the nanohybrid solution. This novel sensor can effectively identify Hg2+ from other metal ions with relatively low background interference even in a complex system such as lake water. The detection limit of this method is as low as 42 nM. Furthermore, the sensing technique is applicable to detect Hg2+ in living cells.
- carbon nanoparticles
- mercury ions
- ratiometric fluorescence sensor