"Sensitive, portable heavy-metal-ion detection by the sulfidation method on a superhydrophobic concentrator (SPOT)"

Hiang Kwee Lee: Wenxiao Huang, Yusheng Ye, Jinwei Xu, Yucan Peng, Tong Wu, Ankun Yang, Lien-Yang Chou, Xin Xiao, Xin Gao, Fang Liu, Hansen Wang, Bofei Liu, Jiangyan Wang, and Yi Cui; One Earth, 05/21/21.

Additional Authors: Wenxiao Huang, Yusheng Ye, Jinwei Xu, Yucan Peng, Tong Wu, Ankun Yang, Lien-Yang Chou, Xin Xiao, Xin Gao, Fang Liu, Hansen Wang, Bofei Liu, Jiangyan Wang, and Yi Cui

Abstract:

One in three people worldwide does not have access to safe drinking water. Notably, heavy-metal ions (HMIs) are major water pollutants threatening human health because of their severe toxicity, even at trace levels. Efficient HMI detection thus plays a major defense against metal poisoning by enabling early pollution warning and efficient regulatory enforcement. However, it remains a formidable challenge to accurately detect these pollutants on site at ultratrace levels in a cost- or time-effective manner. Here, we introduce an efficient, portable sensor to concurrently quantify five different HMIs down to the sub-nanomolar level by sulfiding them on a superhydrophobic surface. Sulfidation serves as a colorimetric reaction while the superhydrophobic surface concentrates analytes for sensitive visual detection. Our superhydrophobic concentrator (SPOT) sensor can be made portable by being integrated with a smartphone application to quantify HMIs in <8 min and at $0.02 per analysis. Decentralizing water monitoring by using our SPOT design is crucial to ensuring that clean water is accessible to everyone.