Clustered Detection of Eleven Phthalic Acid Esters by Fluorescence of Graphene Quantum Dots Displaced from Gold Nanoparticles

Hyun Jeong Lim, Hyowon Jin, Beelee Chua, Ahjeong Son

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


A gold nanoparticle-quenched graphene quantum dot-based aptasensor was developed to perform clustered detection of 11 phthalic acid esters (PAEs). The binding of the target PAEs to the aptasensor frees the graphene quantum dots that are otherwise quenched by the carrier gold nanoparticle. The resultant fluorescence upon excitation is proportional to the number of freed graphene quantum dots and hence the target PAE concentration. The synthesis of the proposed aptasensor was first verified step-by-step via FT-IR measurement, scanning electron microscopy, and fluorescence measurement. Selectivity was evaluated for individual and combined target PAEs and compared against seven non-PAE endocrine disrupting compounds. The proposed aptasensor successfully quantified 11 PAEs in test samples with varying concentrations of 0.001–50 ng PAEs/mL and demonstrated a limit of detection of ∼4 pg./mL. Finally, the AuNP-gQD aptasensor was employed to detect multiple combinations of commonly regulated PAEs (DBP, DIBP, DEHP, and BBP). The recovery (%) for all four PAEs combination in environmentally relevant concentrations of 0.5, 1, 5, and 10 ng/mL were ∼100%.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4186-4196
Number of pages11
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number3
StatePublished - 26 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2019R1A2C2084233 and NRF-2020R1A6A3A01099471).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Chemical Society


  • aptasensor
  • clustered detection
  • gold nanoparticles
  • graphene quantum dots
  • phthalic acid esters (PAEs)


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