Nanoporous gold based optical sensor for sub-ppt detection of mercury ions

Ling Zhang, Haixin Chang, Akihiko Hirata, Hongkai Wu, Qi Kun Xue*, Mingwei Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

173 Citations (Scopus)


Precisely probing heavy metal ions in water is important for molecular biology, environmental protection, and healthy monitoring. Although many methods have been reported in the past decade, developing a quantitative approach capable of detecting sub-ppt level heavy metal ions with high selectivity is still challenging. Here we report an extremely sensitive and highly selective nanoporous gold/aptamer based surface enhanced resonance Raman scattering (SERRS) sensor. The optical sensor has an unprecedented detection sensitivity of 1 pM (0.2 ppt) for Hg2+ ions, the most sensitive Hg2+ optical sensor known so far. The sensor also exhibits excellent selectivity. Dilute Hg2+ ions can be identified in an aqueous solution containing 12 metal ions as well as in river water and underground water. Moreover, the SERRS sensor can be reused without an obvious loss of the sensitivity and selectivity even after 10 cycles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4595-4600
Number of pages6
JournalACS Nano
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2013 May 28
Externally publishedYes


  • aptamer
  • mercury ion
  • nanoporous gold (NPG)
  • optical sensor
  • surface enhanced resonance Raman scattering (SERRS)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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