Dual detection of nitrate and mercury in water using disposable electrochemical sensors

Minh Phuong N. Bui, John Brockgreitens, Snober Ahmed, Abdennour Abbas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Here we report a disposable, cost effective electrochemical paper-based sensor for the detection of both nitrate and mercury ions in lake water and contaminated agricultural runoff. Disposable carbon paper electrodes were functionalized with selenium particles (SePs) and gold nanoparticles (AuNPs). The AuNPs served as a catalyst for the reduction of nitrate ions using differential pulse voltammetry techniques. The AuNPs also served as a nucleation sites for mercury ions. The SePs further reinforced this mercury ion nucleation due to their high binding affinity to mercury. Differential pulse stripping voltammetry techniques were used to further enhance mercury ion accumulation on the modified electrode. The fabricated electrode was characterized by scanning electron microscopy, energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, and electrochemistry techniques. The obtained results show that the PEG-SH/SePs/AuNPs modified carbon paper electrode has a dual functionality in that it can detect both nitrate and mercury ions without any interference. The modified carbon paper electrode has improved the analytical sensitivity of nitrate and mercury ions with limits of detection of 8.6 μM and 1.0 ppb, respectively. Finally, the modified electrode was used to measure nitrate and mercury in lake water samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)280-286
Number of pages7
JournalBiosensors and Bioelectronics
StatePublished - Nov 15 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the University of Minnesota MnDRIVE Robotics, Sensors and Manufacturing, the MnDRIVE Global Food Venture, and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture , Hatch project 1006789.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier B.V.


  • Disposable electrodes
  • Electrochemical sensors
  • Gold nanoparticles
  • Mercury detection
  • Nitrate detection
  • Selenium nanoparticles


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