Indexed on: 15 Feb '17Published on: 15 Feb '17Published in: Analytical Chemistry
A technique for encapsulating fluorescent organic probes in a micelle system offers an important alternative method to manufacture water-soluble organic nanoparticles (ONPs) for use in sensing Hg2+. This article reports on a study of a surfactant-free micelle-like ONPs based on a 3,6-di(2-thienyl)-2,5-dihydropyrrolo[3,4-c]pyrrole-1,4-dione (TDPP) amphiphile, (2-(2-(2-meth-oxyethoxy)ethyl)-3,6-di(2-thiophyl)-2,5-dihydropyrrolo[3,4-c]pyrrole-1,4-dione (NDPP) fabricated to monitor Hg2+ in water. NDPP was synthesized through a simple one-step modification of a commercially available dye TDPP with a flexible and hydrophilic alkoxy. This study reports, for the first time, that TDPP dyes can respond reversibly, sensitively, and selectively to Hg2+ through TDPP-Hg-TDPP complexation similar to the well-known thymine(T)-Hg-thymine(T) model and the accompanying molecular aggregation. Interestingly, transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and dynamic light scattering (DLS) confirmed that, in water, NDPP forms loose micelle-like fluorescent ONPs with a hydrohobic TDPP portion encapsulated inside. These micelle-like nanoparticles offer an ideal location for TDPP-Hg complexation with a modest molecular aggregation, thereby providing both clear visual and spectroscopic signals for Hg2+sensing. An estimated detection limit of 11 nM for Hg2+ sensing with this NDPP nanoparticle was obtained. In addition, NDPP ONPs show good water-solubility and highly selectivity to Hg2+ in neutral or alkalescent water. It was superior to most micelle-based nanosensors which requires a complicated processin the selection or synthesis of suitable surfactants. The determinations in real samples (river water) were made and satisfactory results were achieved. This study provides a low-cost strategy for fabricating small molecule-based fluorescent nanomaterials for use in sensing Hg2+. Moreover, the NDPP nanoparticles show potential ability in Hg2+ ion adsorption and recognization of cysteine using NDPP-Hg composite particle.