Development of a Thiol-capped Core/Shell Quantum Dot Sensor for Acetaminophen

Hanieh Montaseri, Oluwasesan Adegoke, Patricia B. C. Forbes

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Acetaminophen (AC) is a frequently used pharmaceutical which has been detected in water systems and is of concern due to its potential environmental impacts. In this study, three quantum dot (QD)-ligand systems, namely L-cysteine (L-cys)-, N-acetylL-cysteine (NAC)- and glutathione (GSH)-capped CdSe/ZnS quantum dots, were synthesized and tested for the fluorescence detection of acetaminophen. Among the synthesized aqueous core/shell quantum dots, L-cys-CdSe/ZnS QDs were found to be optimal with high sensitivity for the fluorescence detection of acetaminophen. The L-cys-CdSe/ZnS QDs were of a zinc blende crystal structure and displayed excellent fluorescence intensity and photostability and provided a photoluminescence quantum yield of 77 % . The fluorescence of L-cys-CdSe/ZnS QDs was enhanced by the introduction of AC enabling the development of a fast and simple method for the detection of AC. Under optimal conditions, F-F0 was linearly proportional to the concentration of AC from 3.0–100 nmol L–1 with limits of detection and quantification of 1.6 and 5.3 nmol L–1, respectively. Some related pharmaceutical compounds including epinephrine hydrochloride (EP), L-ascorbic acid (AA), uric acid (UA), dopamine hydrochloride (DA) and 4-aminophenol (4-AP) did not interfere with the sensing of AC. The probe was also successfully applied in the determination of AC in tap and river water matrices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-117
Number of pages9
JournalSouth African Journal of Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2019


  • Acetaminophen
  • FRET
  • pharmaceuticals
  • quantum dots
  • fluorescence spectroscopy


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