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Anal Chem. 2013 Oct 15;85(20):9932-8. doi: 10.1021/ac402564m. Epub 2013 Sep 23.

Ultrasmall fluorescent ion-exchanging nanospheres containing selective ionophores.

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Department of Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry, University of Geneva , Quai Ernest-Ansermet 30, CH-1211 Geneva, Switzerland.


We present a convenient precipitation procedure to fabricate ultrasmall fluorescent ion-selective nanosensors that operate on the basis of bulk ion-exchange sensing principles. The nanosphere matrix is composed of bis(2-ethylhexyl) sebacate (DOS) and a triblock copolymer Pluronic(®) F-127, which also functions as a surfactant to stabilize the nanoparticle. The particles can be prepared easily in large quantity without resorting to further complicated purification. Dynamic light scattering shows that these particles have a monodisperse size distribution with an average diameter of ∼40 nm, suggesting that the nanoparticles are among the smallest ionophore-based ion-selective nanosensors reported to date. A newly reported oxazinoindoline (Ox) as well as a Nile blue derivative (chromoionophore I) was used as a chromoionophore. Na(+)- and H(+)-selective nanospheres were characterized by absorbance and fluorescence spectroscopy. Owing to the very small size of the nanospheres, the suspension containing the particles is transparent. In the additional presence of the pH indicator HPTS, spectroscopic interrogation of pH and Na(+) in the same sample was demonstrated. As an example, the nanospheres were used to measure the Na(+) level in commercial mineral waters, and the results showed good agreement with atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS).

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