Mercury Detection by Use of a Mobile Phone by Professor Ozcan and his Research Group
Professor Aydogan Ozcan and his research group have extended the use of the mobile phone for detecting environmental contamination specifically to a heavy metal element, mercury. Mercury has specific intrinsic qualities essential to applications in science, medicine and cosmetics but when mishandled can be extremely toxic.
In their research, they introduce a smart phone capable of quantifying mercury (II) ions in water samples with parts per billion level of sensitivity. By integrating an opto-mechanical device to the built-in camera of a smart phone, it can digitally calculate the concentration of mercury using a plasmonic gold nanoparticle (Au NP) and aptamer based colorimetric transmission assay implemented in disposable test tubes. The device uses a two-color ratiometric method employing light-emitting diodes (LEDs) at 523 and 625 nm. A custom smart phone application processes the acquired transmission image.
This latest advancement will out-weigh today’s massive and costly analytical equipment in terms of portability, speed in processing and transmission of information and cost-effectiveness. Professor Ozcan’s research has been working around this theme in improving the accessibility to innovative apparatus in addressing challenges in measurement science and global health.
This research study entitled, “Detection and Spatial Mapping of Mercury Contamination in Water Samples Using a Smart-Phone” is published in ACS Nano and appears in the Nature's research highlights section.