The Detection of Elemental Mercury by Gold Nanoparticles

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ProQuest, 2007 - 662 pages
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In the past decade, as mercury pollution has come under increasing scrutiny by public policy analysts and environmental regulators, nanoscale science and engineering has emerged as an enabling technology and driven tremendous technological change in the field of sensors. In this thesis, use is made of the unique optical properties of gold nanoparticles to develop an environmental sensor capable of detecting elemental mercury at sub ppm levels in aquatic and atmospheric environments. The electron confinement and inner field enhancement that occurs in gold nanoparticles give rise to a strongly absorbing Lorentzian type surface plasmon resonance (SPR) band in the visible spectrum that makes them particularly suited to this application. Several types of gold particle, varying in size, shape, stability, and surface constitution, are investigated and exposed to mercury whilst in solution, i.e., in colloidal form, and immobilized to the surface of transparent quartz substrates using organosilane functional molecules, e.g., aminopropyl-trimethoxysilane (APTMS). UV-vis spectroscopy and TEM imaging are used to characterize changes to the morphology of the gold particles after exposure to mercury, and shifts in the SPR maximum position (wavelength and absorbance) are used to quantify the amount of mercury present.

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The surface plasmon resonance effect
Materials and methods
The interaction of mercury with gold nanoparticles suspended in solution

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