Visual detection of 2,4,6-trinitrotolune by molecularly imprinted colloidal array photonic crystal

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We developed a photonic crystal (PhC) sensor for the quantification of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT) in solution. Monodisperse (210 nm in diameter) molecularly imprinted colloidal particles (MICs) for TNT were prepared by the emulsion polymerization of methyl methacrylate and acrylamide in the presence of TNT as a template. The MICs were then self-assembled into close-packed opal PhC films. The adsorption capacity of the MICs for TNT was 64 mg TNT/g. The diffraction from the PhC depended on the TNT concentration in a methanol/water (3/2, v/v) potassium dihydrogen phosphate buffer solution (pH = 7.0, 30 mM). The limit of detection (LOD) of the sensor was 1.03 μg. The color of the molecularly imprinted colloidal array (MICA) changed from green to red with an 84 nm diffraction red shift when the TNT concentration increased to 20 mM. The sensor response time was 3 min. The PhC sensor was selective for TNT compared to similar compounds such as 2,4,6-trinitrophenol, 2,4-dinitrotoluene, 2,6-dinitrotoluene, 2-nitromesitylene, 4-nitrotoluene, 2-nitrotoluene, 1,3-dinitrobenzene, methylbenzene, 4-nitrophenol, 2-nitroaniline, 3-aminophenol and 3-nitroaniline. The sensor showed high stability with little response change after three years storage. This sensor technology might be useful for the visual determination of TNT.




Lu, W., Asher, S. A., Meng, Z., Yan, Z., Xue, M., Qiu, L., & Yi, D. (2016). Visual detection of 2,4,6-trinitrotolune by molecularly imprinted colloidal array photonic crystal. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 316, 87–93.

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