Ratiometric Detection of Nerve Agents by Coupling Complementary Properties of Silicon-Based Quantum Dots and Green Fluorescent Protein

ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2019 Sep 11;11(36):33478-33488. doi: 10.1021/acsami.9b10996. Epub 2019 Aug 29.


Ratiometric photoluminescent detection of the toxicologically potent organophosphate ester nerve agents paraoxon (PX) and parathion (PT) using the complementary optical and chemical properties of the long Stokes shift green fluorescent protein variant, mAmetrine1.2 (mAm), and red-emitting silicon-based quantum dots (SiQDs) is reported. PX and PT selectively quench SiQD photoluminescence (PL) through a dynamic quenching mechanism, thereby, facilitating the development of a ratiometric sensor platform that shows micromolar limits of detection for PX and PT and that is unaffected by the presence of common inorganic and organic interferents. As a part of the present study, we also demonstrate that the paper-based sensors derived from mAm and SiQDs detect PX and PT at concentrations as low as 5 μM using a readily available commercial color analysis smartphone "app". The ratiometric sensor reported herein can potentially be used for the convenient and rapid on-site detection and quantification of PX and PT in real-world samples.

Keywords: green fluorescent protein; nerve agents; paraoxon; parathion; ratiometric sensor; silicon-based quantum dots.

MeSH terms

  • Dynamic Light Scattering
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism*
  • Luminescence
  • Nerve Agents / analysis*
  • Particle Size
  • Quantum Dots / chemistry*
  • Silicon / chemistry*
  • Solubility
  • Solutions
  • Temperature
  • Water


  • Nerve Agents
  • Solutions
  • Water
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Silicon