3 years ago

Controlled etching of gold nanorods by the Au(III)-CTAB complex, and its application to semi-quantitative visual determination of organophosphorus pesticides

Dandan Li, Zhanming Gao, Shuo Wu, Jiamian Wang


The authors describe a semi-quantitative colorimetric method for visual detection of organophosphorus pesticides (OPs). It is based on the aspect ratio dependent absorbance of gold nanorods (AuNRs) which is due to the localized surface plasmon resonance. The aspect ratio can be tailored by the Au(III) complex formed with cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB) which is affected by acetylcholinesterase (AChE) based hydrolysis. OPs act as inhibitors of this reaction. In the absence of OPs, the product (thiocholine) of enzymatic hydrolysis consumes almost all the Au(III) species. In this case, the amount of residual Au(III)-CTAB complexes is small, and etching of the AuNRs does not occur. In the presence of OPs, however, the activity of AChE is inhibited. Hence, only small quantities of (or no) thiocholine is produced, and Au(III) is not consumed. Au(III) is capable of etching AuNRs and to change their aspect ratio. This leads to a color change from brownish to gray, cyan, green, blue, purple, red, and colorless that can be easily observed with bare eyes. The AuNRs were incorporated into cellulose paper to obtain a paper stripe for visual detection of OPs. Under optimal conditions, both methods (AuNRs in aqueous solutions and on paper) allowed various OPs to be determined. Applied to parathion, the method had a detection limit as low as 1.2 ppb and a linear range from 0.01 to 1.84 ppm. It was applied to the analysis of cabbage washing solutions and sea water samples, and acceptable accuracy and good resolution were found. In our preconception, the method represents a valuable tool for on-site detection of OPs in agriculture products and food.

Graphical abstract

Schematic of a semi-quantitative method for the visual detection of organophosphate pesticides based on etching of gold nanorods. A color change from brownish to gray, green, blue, purple, red, and colorless can be observed and correlated to the concentration of pesticides.

Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00604-017-2468-9

DOI: 10.1007/s00604-017-2468-9

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