Microchimica Acta

, 186:37 | Cite as

Colorimetric and dark-field microscopic determination of cadmium(II) using unmodified gold nanoparticles and based on the formation of glutathione-cadmium(II) complexes

  • Li LiEmail author
  • Bing Liu
  • Zhengbo Chen
Original Paper


A colorimetric approach is presented for the determinaton of cadmium(II) using unmodified gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) as a colorimetric probe. The assay is based on AuNP aggregation that is induced by the complexes formed between Cd(II) and glutathione (GSH) in a concentrated solution of NaCl. Unmodified AuNPs are known to aggregate in high-salt medium, but GSH can prevent aggregation. In the presence of Cd(II), it will bind GSH, and this will cause the AuNPs to aggregate as indicated by yellow and red dots under dark-field microscopy observation and the formation of a blue coloration. By monitoring the intensity change of AuNPs (as a ratio of absorbances at 600 and 520 nm), Cd(II) can be quantified with a linear response in the 17 pM to 16.7 nM concentration range and a detection limit of 4.3 pM. The method was successfully applied to the determination of Cd(II) in spiked lake water by the standard addition mode, and the detection limit is 4.5 pM.

Graphical abstract

A ultrasensitive colorimetric assay of cadmium ions using unmodified gold nanoparticles as colorimetric probes with dark-field microscopy


Cadmium ion Gold nanoparticle aggregation Glutathione Microscopy Lake water Yellow and red dots Ratiometric detection 



This study was supported by Science and Technology Innovation Funds of Xinxiang University (Grant No.15ZP05) and Science Technology Open Cooperation Program of Henan Province of China (Grant No.182106000029).

Compliance with ethical standards

The author(s) declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

604_2018_3166_MOESM1_ESM.doc (4.9 mb)
ESM 1 (DOC 4971 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Chemistry and Chemical EngineeringXinxiang UniversityXinxiangChina
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryCapital Normal UniversityBeijingChina

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