Using low cost portable devices that enable a single analytical step for screening environmental contaminants is today a demanding issue. This concept is here tried out by recycling screen-printed electrodes that were to be disposed of and by choosing as sensory element a low cost material offering specific response for an environmental contaminant. Microcystins (MCs) were used as target analyte, for being dangerous toxins produced by cyanobacteria released into water bodies. The sensory element was a plastic antibody designed by surface imprinting with carefully selected monomers to ensure a specific response. These were designed on the wall of carbon nanotubes, taking advantage of their exceptional electrical properties. The stereochemical ability of the sensory material to detect MCs was checked by preparing blank materials where the imprinting stage was made without the template molecule.The novel sensory material for MCs was introduced in a polymeric matrix and evaluated against potentiometric measurements. Nernstian response was observed from 7.24×10-10 to 1.28×10-9M in buffer solution (10mM HEPES, 150mM NaCl, pH 6.6), with average slopes of -62mVdecade-1 and detection capabilities below 1nM. The blank materials were unable to provide a linear response against log(concentration), showing only a slight potential change towards more positive potentials with increasing concentrations (while that of the plastic antibodies moved to more negative values), with a maximum rate of +33mVdecade-1. The sensors presented good selectivity towards sulphate, iron and ammonium ions, and also chloroform and tetrachloroethylene (TCE) and fast response (<20s). This concept was successfully tested on the analysis of spiked environmental water samples. The sensors were further applied onto recycled chips, comprehending one site for the reference electrode and two sites for different selective membranes, in a biparametric approach for "in situ" analysis.
- Carbon nanotubes