Detection of Lead Contamination in Water using Fluorescence of Functionalized Gold Nanoparticles


  • Parker Lusk
  • Holly A Stretz Tennessee Technological University
  • Martha JM Wells


The primary focus of this study was to determine whether gold nanoparticles (GNPs) coated with 11-mercaptoundecanoic acid (MUA) would exhibit a fluorescent response upon the addition of lead contaminated water. Different concentrations of both MUA-GNPs and Pb2+ exhibited fluorescent responses of varying types, indicating that inter-particle distance after the addition of the lead may be dependent on the lead concentration. Both fluorescent enhancement and quenching behavior were noted. The maps of fluorescent response were generated using excitation emission matrix spectroscopy. The data were corrected for inner filtering and water Raman effects.  These fluorescent responses, if optimized, could be used to create a nanoparticle-embedded membrane, housed in a water filter with a clear window, enabling residential consumers to immediately detect by eye the presence of lead in their drinking water using a simple handheld UV flashlight.

Author Biography

Holly A Stretz, Tennessee Technological University

Dr. Stretz is a professor of chemical engineering at Tennessee Technological University.  Her research group is interested in the combination of nanoparticles and polymers, with applications in drug delivery, solar cells, sensors and water purification.  Polymer processing and properties at extreme conditions is also investigated.