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Anal Chem. 2018 Oct 2;90(19):11517-11522. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.8b02808. Epub 2018 Sep 14.

Smartphone Nanocolorimetry for On-Demand Lead Detection and Quantitation in Drinking Water.


Lead ions (Pb2+) contamination in drinking water, a major source of lead poisoning to the general population, is typically detected by bulky and costly laboratory analytical instrument. A mobile analytical device for rapid Pb2+ sensing is a growing demand. Herein, we report smartphone nanocolorimetry (SNC) as a new technique to detect and quantify dissolved Pb2+ in drinking water. Specifically, we have employed a single-step sedimentation approach by mixing a controlled quantity of chromate ion (CrO42-) to react with Pb2+ containing solutions to form highly insoluble lead chromate (PbCrO4) nanoparticles as vivid yellow precipitates. This is followed by microscopic color detection and intensity quantitation at nanoscale level using dark-field smartphone microscopy. The sum of the intensity of yellow pixels bears a highly reproducible relationship with Pb2+ concentration between 1.37 and 175 ppb in deionized water and 5-175 ppb in city tap water. In contrast to traditional colorimetric techniques analyzing bulk color changes, SNC achieves unparalleled sensitivity by combining nanocolorimetry with dark-field microscopy and mobilized the metal ions detection by integrating the detection into the smartphone microscope platform. SNC is rapid and low-cost and has the potential to enable individual citizens to examine Pb2+ content in drinking water on-demand in virtually any environmental setting.

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