This study describes a novel Au nanocluster-based fluorescent sensor for label-free, separation-free and selective detection of cysteamine (CSH). The sensing mechanism is based on CSH etching-induced fluorescence quenching of the bovine serum albumin-protected Au25 nanoclusters (BSAGNCs). A series of characterizations is carried out towards a better understanding of the CSH-induced fluorescence quenching of the BSAGNCs. It is found that CSH can etch the Au25 nanoclusters, exhibiting the potent etching activity. Other thiol-containing compounds such as glutathione and cysteine and other 19 natural amino acids do not interfere with such CSH-induced etching process. The decreases in fluorescence intensity of the BSAGNCs allow sensitive detection of free CSH in the range of 500-10,000nM. The detection limit for CSH is 150nM (S/N=3). The spiked human serum samples can be analyzed with satisfactory results.
Keywords: Cysteamine; Gold nanocluster; Nanocluster-based biosensor; Thiol etching; Thiol sensor.
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