Microchimica Acta

, 187:14 | Cite as

A strategy for visual optical determination of glucose based on a smartphone device using fluorescent boron-doped carbon nanoparticles as a light-up probe

  • Negar Alizadeh
  • Abdollah SalimiEmail author
  • Rahman Hallaj
Original Paper


Boronic acid-doped carbon nanoparticles were prepared and are shown to undergo aggregation induced emission (AIE). The nanoparticle composite is a viable fluorescent probe for glucose determination by using the RGB technique and a smartphone. The structure and the chemical composition of the doped carbon nanoparticles were confirmed by SEM, TEM, FTIR and UV-vis spectroscopy. The combination of 4-carboxyphenylboronic acid with o-phenylenediamine and rhodamine B endowed the hybrid with high fluorescence intensity (quantum yield 46%). Compared with conventional two-step preparation of boronic acid-based fluorescent probes for glucose, the present one step synthesis strategy is simpler and more effective. The addition of glucose causes the formation of covalent bonds between the cis-diols group of glucose molecules and boronic acid moiety. Fluorescent intensity can be quantified using dual wavelengths simultaneously, where both increases, as the target analytes bind to the bronic acid. These variations was monitored by the smartphone camera, and the green channel intensities of the colored images were processed by using the RGB option of a smartphone. The assay works in the 32 μM to 2 mM glucose concentration range and has an 8 μM detection limit. The method was successfully used for the assay of glucose in diluted human serum.

Graphical abstract

The fluorometric method was developed for determination of glucose using boron doped carbon nanoparticles (BCNBs). The BCNPs aggregate after covalent binding between the cis-diols of glucose and boronic acid. The green channel of the images is recorded by a smartphone camera.


Glucose sensing Fluorescence Carbon nanoparticle Bronic acid Point of care Smartphone 



This research was supported by the Iran Nanotechnology Initiative Council (Smartphone based Sensors and Biosensors project) and the Research Offices of the University of Kurdistan, Sanandaj-Iran (grant number 4.160231). Abdollah Salimi acknowledges professor T.K. Sham (University of Western Ontario) as a host during his sabbatical and also his participation in discussions.

Compliance with ethical standards

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


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Negar Alizadeh
    • 1
  • Abdollah Salimi
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Rahman Hallaj
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryUniversity of KurdistanSanandajIran
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada
  3. 3.Research Center for NanotechnologyUniversity of KurdistanSanandajIran

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