Al3+ ion sensing at attomole level via surface-potential mapping of gold nanoparticle complexes

Woong Kim, Gyudo Lee, Minwoo Kim, Joohyung Park, Seongjae Jo, Dae Sung Yoon, Youngja H. Park, Junghwa Hong, Jinsung Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Aluminum can be ionized in water by reacting with chlorides. Aluminum ions (Al3+) are believed to be very harmful to human health and are associated with Alzheimer's disease. The detection of Al3+ is extremely important, but conventional methods suffer from low sensitivity and cumbersome processes. Herein, we report ultra-sensitive and label-free detection of Al3+ using gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) and Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM). Al3+ was exposed on citrated AuNPs with different concentrations; Al3+/AuNP complexes were constructed via binding interactions between Al3+ and the citrates. By probing the Al3+/AuNP complexes, we quantified the degree of interactions between Al3+ and the citrated AuNPs using KPFM. As the Al3+ concentration decreased, KPFM succeeded in exhibiting ultra-sensitive detection as low as 2 amol (limit of detection 1 pM, single droplet 2 μL). We tested real samples from a sheet of aluminum foil, and detected ∼748 amol (∼374 pM, single droplet 2 μL) Al3+. The results indicate that the combination of AuNPs and KPFM offers a robust, facile, and an ultra-sensitive platform technology for detecting Al3+.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2179-2186
Number of pages8
JournalSensors and Actuators, B: Chemical
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Feb

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) under Grant no. NRF-20151A1A1A05027581 , NRF-2017M3A9F1031229 and a Korea University Future Research Grant .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.


  • Aluminum ions
  • Attomole
  • Gold nanoparticle
  • Label-free
  • Nanotoxicity
  • Real sample
  • Surface potential

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Instrumentation
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Materials Chemistry


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