Construction of electrochemical sensing interface towards Cd(II) based on activated g-C3N4 nanosheets: considering the effects of exfoliation and protonation treatment

  • Yao Liu
  • Ge-Ling Wen
  • Xing ChenEmail author
  • Rohan Weerasooriya
  • Zhan-Yong Hong
  • Lian-Chao WangEmail author
  • Zhong-Jia HuangEmail author
  • Yu-Cheng Wu
Research Paper


There is an urgent need to construct highly selective low-cost sensors for fast detection of toxic metal ions such as cadmium. When compared with 3D bulk materials, 2D layered materials after activation treatments show superior performances for electrochemical metal ion detection. The bulk graphitic carbon nitride (hereafter b-g-C3N4) was prepared by thermal polymerization with urea as a precursor; it was then activated through ultrasonic liquid exfoliation and protonation which resulted in successful fabrication of activated ultrathin g-C3N4 nanosheets (hereafter a-g-C3N4). The a-g-C3N4-modified glassy carbon electrode demonstrates excellent electrochemical performances for Cd2+ detection with 22.668 μA/μM sensitivity and 3.9 nM LOD (S/N = 3) due to high specific surface area and active sites created on the 2D layered structure. The chemical interference of Pb2+, Cu2+, and Hg2+ on Cd2+ detection was minimal. We have also measured Cd2+ in natural water and rice samples using the newly developed a-g-C3N4-modified electrode with high spike recoveries. Our results demonstrate the potential applications of newly developed a-g-C3N4-modified electrode for rapid detection of toxic metal ions in different sample matrixes.

Graphical Abstract

The activated g-C3N4 nanosheets (a-g-C3N4) were synthesized and used to construct electrochemical sensors with high sensitivity and anti-interference performance.


Cadmium ions Activated g-C3N4 nanosheets Electrochemical detection Exfoliation Protonation 



The authors acknowledge the financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 21777164), National Basic Research Program of China (Grant No. SQ2019YFC040023), Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (Grant No. PA2019GDQT0019 and PA2019GDQT0017), and Key Technologies R & D Program of Anhui Province (No. 1704c0402195). R. W. acknowledges the Program of Distinguished Professor in B&R Countries (Grant No. DL20180052).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

216_2019_2240_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (547 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 546 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Lab of Aerospace Structural Parts Forming Technology and Equipment of Anhui Province, Institute of Industry and Equipment TechnologyHefei University of TechnologyHefeiChina
  2. 2.School of Mechanical and Automotive EngineeringAnhui Polytechnic UniversityWuhuChina
  3. 3.School of Resources and Environmental EngineeringHefei University of TechnologyHefeiChina
  4. 4.School of Materials Science and EngineeringHefei University of TechnologyHefeiChina
  5. 5.National Institute of Fundamental StudiesKandySri Lanka

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