Content Partner: India Science Wire
Scientists have developed a sensor to detect arsenic impurities. This sensitive sensor is capable of detecting arsenic in water and food samples in just 15 minutes. It is highly sensitive, selective and one step process sensor. It is perfect for a variety of water and food samples. The presence of arsenic can be detected based on the change in color of any food or liquid by placing it on the surface of the sensor. Anyone can easily use this sensor.
Arsenic is a natural metal-like element that cannot be seen, tasted or smelled. Exposure to arsenic can cause health problems such as skin lesions, skin cancer, bladder, lung and heart diseases, miscarriage, infant death and intellectual development of children.
Testing can be done in three ways
This sensor can be tested in three ways – spectroscopic measurement, color intensity measurement with the help of colorimeter or mobile application and it can be examined with open eyes. This sensor can detect a wide range of arsenic – from 0.05 ppb (parts per billion) to 1000 ppm (parts per million).
In the case of paper and colorimetric sensors, the color of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) changes from violet to blue upon exposure to arsenic. The blue color in it becomes thicker with an increase in the concentration of arsenic.
Dr Vanish Kumar, who developed the sensor, said that the non-availability of sensitive detection method for arsenic ions is a matter of concern. Dr Kumar explains, “Considering the challenge of detecting arsenic in food and beverages, we started working on the development of a sensitive and quick detection method. We were aware of interactions between molybdenum and arsenic. Therefore, we fabricated a material consisting of molybdenum and a catalyst, which can give signals resulting from the interaction of molybdenum and arsenic. After several attempts, we developed a mixed metal metal-organic framework (MOF) for the specific, one-step and sensitive detection of arsenic ions.”
Successful test done
This sensor has been subjected to spectroscopic as well as paper-based testing for the detection of arsenic in ground water, rice extract and potato Bukhara juice, which was successful.
The sensor is 500 times more sensitive than an improved version of the Molybdenum-Blue test, a conventional test used to test for arsenic impurities. It is economical and simple compared to other commonly used analytical techniques such as atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS) and inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICPMS). Other existing tests also require skilled operators.
It has been developed by Dr. Vanish Kumar, recipient of Inspire Faculty Fellowship, Department of Science and Technology and currently working at National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute (NABI), Mohali. This research has been published in the journal ‘Chemical Engineering Journal’.
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