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ACS Nano. 2016 Jan 26;10(1):1139-46. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.5b06433. Epub 2015 Nov 24.

Multichannel Detection and Differentiation of Explosives with a Quantum Dot Array.

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Department of Security and Crime Science, University College London , 35 Tavistock Sq., London WC1H 9EZ, United Kingdom.
Department of Chemistry, University College London , 20 Gordon St., London WC1H 0AJ, United Kingdom.
School of Chemistry, Cardiff University , Main Building, Park Place, Cardiff CF10 3AT, United Kingdom.


The sensing and differentiation of explosive molecules is key for both security and environmental monitoring. Single fluorophores are a widely used tool for explosives detection, but a fluorescent array is a more powerful tool for detecting and differentiating such molecules. By combining array elements into a single multichannel platform, faster results can be obtained from smaller amounts of sample. Here, five explosives are detected and differentiated using quantum dots as luminescent probes in a multichannel platform: 2,4-dinitrotoluene (DNT), 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT), tetryl (2,4,6-trinitrophenylmethylnitramine), cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine (RDX), and pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN). The sharp, variable emissions of the quantum dots, from a single excitation wavelength, make them ideal for such a system. Each color quantum dot is functionalized with a different surface receptor via a facile ligation process. These receptors undergo nonspecific interactions with the explosives, inducing variable fluorescence quenching of the quantum dots. Pattern analysis of the fluorescence quenching data allows for explosive detection and identification with limits-of-detection in the ppb range.


TNT; explosive; luminescence; multichannel; quantum dot; sensor

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