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Anal Chem. 2013 Dec 17;85(24):12028-36. doi: 10.1021/ac403050f. Epub 2013 Nov 22.

Gel for simultaneous chemical imaging of anionic and cationic solutes using diffusive gradients in thin films.

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  • 1Department of Forest and Soil Sciences, Institute of Soil Research, ‡Department of Chemistry, VIRIS Laboratory, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU) , Konrad-Lorenz-Strasse 24, Tulln A-3430, Austria.


We report on a novel gel based on diffusive gradients in thin films (DGT) for the simultaneous measurement of cations and anions and its suitability for high resolution chemical imaging by using laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICPMS). The new high resolution mixed binding gel (HR-MBG) is based on zirconium-hydroxide and suspended particulate reagent-iminodiacetate (SPR-IDA) as resin materials which are embedded in an ether-based urethane polymer hydrogel. The use of this polymer hydrogel material allows the production of ultrathin, highly stable and tear-proof resin gel layers with superior handling properties compared to existing ultrathin polyacrylamide gels. The gel was characterized regarding its uptake kinetics, the anion and cation capacities, and the effects of pH, ionic strength, and aging on the performance of the HR-MBG. Our results demonstrate the capability of this novel gel for concomitant sampling of anions and cations. The suitability of this new gel type for DGT chemical imaging at submm spatial resolution in soils using LA-ICPMS is shown. 2D images of P, As, Co, Cu, Mn, and Zn distributions around roots of Zea mays L. demonstrate the new opportunities offered by the HR-MBG for high-resolution mapping of solute dynamics in soil and sediment hotspots, such as the rhizosphere, by simultaneous observation of anionic and cationic solute species.

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