Pomegranate-Peel Sensor Detects Mercury with Glow

Jim Crocker
3rd March, 2024

Pomegranate-Peel Sensor Detects Mercury with Glow

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers in China developed a biosensor that detects mercury in water using pomegranate peel
  • The biosensor changes its glow when mercury is present, allowing for easy detection
  • It can identify very low mercury levels, making it a sensitive and cost-effective tool for monitoring
Mercury pollution is a growing concern due to its toxic effects on human health and the environment. Detecting mercury ions (Hg2+) in water and other samples is crucial for preventing exposure. Researchers at Xi'an University of Science and Technology have developed a new fluorescence biosensor capable of detecting low levels of mercury with high selectivity and sensitivity[1]. This innovative approach uses carbon quantum dots derived from pomegranate peel (P-CQDs) and integrates biological molecules to achieve its goal. The problem of mercury detection is not new, and traditional methods often require complex procedures and expensive equipment. The need for simpler, more accessible detection methods has led to various studies exploring different materials and technologies. For instance, the use of magnetic adsorbents combined with magnetic solid phase extraction has shown promise in trapping different mercury species in water samples[2]. Similarly, the construction of aptamer-based electrochemical biosensors has been a significant step forward, with nanomaterials enhancing sensitivity and simplifying detection[3]. The development of carbon quantum dots (CQDs) with customized surface functionality has also opened doors for their use as biological probes[4]. Building on these advancements, the research team at Xi'an University created a biosensor that operates on the principle of fluorescence quenching and recovery. The P-CQDs exhibit fluorescence, which is suppressed (quenched) when they interact with a compound called hemin. However, when a G-quadruplex structure—a specific form of nucleic acid—binds to hemin, the fluorescence is restored. The presence of mercury ions induces the formation of T-Hg2+-T mismatches in thymine-rich DNA fragments, releasing the G-quadruplex and altering the fluorescence signal of the hemin/P-CQDs system. The P-CQDs were thoroughly characterized using techniques such as transmission electron microscopy, which provided insights into their size and shape, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, which helped understand their chemical composition. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy was also employed to identify the functional groups present on the P-CQDs. These characterizations ensured that the P-CQDs had the necessary properties to function effectively in the biosensor. The proposed biosensor by the researchers at Xi'an University demonstrated a linear response to mercury ion concentrations ranging from 1 nanomolar (nM) to 50 nM, indicating its capability to detect even trace amounts of mercury in environmental water samples. The simplicity of the biosensor design, coupled with the low cost of the materials (specifically, the use of pomegranate peel as a precursor for the CQDs), makes this method an attractive option for routine mercury monitoring. The sensitivity of the biosensor is a critical advantage, and it can be attributed to the unique properties of the P-CQDs and the specific interactions between the G-quadruplex, hemin, and mercury ions. This sensitivity is crucial when considering the potential health impacts of mercury exposure, which can include neurological and developmental damage, particularly in vulnerable populations such as children. The research at Xi'an University of Science and Technology represents a convergence of different scientific approaches to tackle the issue of mercury detection. It incorporates the use of magnetic adsorbents for capturing mercury species[2], the application of nanomaterials in biosensor technology[3], and the modification of carbon quantum dots for specific interactions with biological molecules[4]. This biosensor exemplifies how interdisciplinary research can lead to practical solutions for environmental monitoring, potentially impacting public health and safety. In summary, the development of the fluorescence biosensor by the team at Xi'an University offers a promising new tool for the detection of mercury ions in water. Its high sensitivity, selectivity, and low cost provide an accessible means for monitoring and mitigating the risks associated with mercury pollution, reflecting a significant step forward in the field of environmental science and public health.



Main Study

1) A Fluorescence Biosensor Based on Carbon Quantum Dots Prepared from Pomegranate Peel and T-Hg2+-T Mismatch for Hg2+ Detection.

Published 1st March, 2024


Related Studies

2) One-pot fabrication of functional magnetic adsorbent for efficient capture of mercury species in aqueous samples prior to HPLC analysis.


3) Application of Nanomaterial Modified Aptamer-Based Electrochemical Sensor in Detection of Heavy Metal Ions.


4) Amine functionalized carbon quantum dots from paper precursors for selective binding and fluorescent labelling applications.


Related Articles

An unhandled error has occurred. Reload 🗙