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Aptamer-based cocaine assay using a nanohybrid composed of ZnS/Ag2Se quantum dots, graphene oxide and gold nanoparticles as a fluorescent probe

  • Adegoke, Oluwasesan1
  • Pereira-Barros, Magda A.1
  • Zolotovskaya, Svetlana2
  • Abdolvand, Amin2
  • Daeid, Niamh Nic1
  • 1 University of Dundee, Dundee, DD1 4GH, United Kingdom , Dundee (United Kingdom)
  • 2 University of Dundee, Dundee, DD1 4HN, United Kingdom , Dundee (United Kingdom)
Published Article
Microchimica Acta
Publication Date
Jan 08, 2020
DOI: 10.1007/s00604-019-4101-6
Springer Nature


Authors report on a new fluoro-graphene-plasmonic nanohybrid aptamer-based fluorescent nanoprobe for cocaine. To construct the nanoprobe, newly synthesized glutathione-capped ZnS/Ag2Se quantum dots (QDs) were first conjugated to graphene oxide (GO) to form a QD-GO nanocomposite. The binding interaction resulted in a fluorescence turn-ON. Thereafter, cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB)-gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) were directly adsorbed on the QD-GO nanocomposite to form a novel QD-GO-CTAB-AuNP nanohybrid assembly that resulted in a fluorescence turn-OFF. Streptavidin (strep) was then adsorbed on the QDs-GO-CTAB-AuNP nanohybrid assembly which allowed binding to a biotinylated MNS 4.1 anticocaine DNA aptamer (B) receptor. The addition of cocaine into the strep-B-QDs-GO-CTAB-AuNP aptamer nanoprobe system aided affinity to the aptamer receptor and in turn turned on the fluorescence of the nanoprobe in a concentration-dependent manner. Under optimum experimental conditions, we found the strep-B-QD-GO-CTAB-AuNP to be far superior in its sensitivity to cocaine than the tested strep-B-QDs (no GO and CTAB-AuNPs), strep-B-QD-CTAB-AuNP (no GO) and strep-B-QD-GO (no CTAB-AuNP). In addition, the investigation of localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) amplified signal from tested plasmonic NPs shows that CTAB-AuNPs was far superior in amplifying the fluorescence signal of the nanoprobe. A detection limit of 4.6 nM (1.56 ng.mL−1), rapid response time (~2 min) and excellent selectivity against other drugs, substances and cocaine metabolites was achieved. The strep-B-QD-GO-CTAB-AuNP aptamer-based fluorescent nanoprobe was successfully applied for the determination of cocaine in seized adulterated cocaine samples. Graphical abstractSchematic representation of the streptavidin-biotin-quantum dot-graphene oxide-cetyltrimethylammonium bromide-gold nanoparticle aptamer-based fluorescent nanoprobe for cocaine.

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