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Structurally Colored Thiol Chitosan Thin Films as a Platform for Aqueous Heavy Metal Ion Detection

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journal contribution
posted on 14.01.2008, 00:00 authored by Matthew D. Cathell, Janah C. Szewczyk, Frances A. Bui, Carrie A. Weber, Jessica D. Wolever, Jennifer Kang, Caroline L. Schauer
Thin films of the polysaccharide chitosan and several chitosan derivatives, including conjugates of l-cysteine, thioglycolic acid, and 2-iminothiolane, were produced from dilute acidic solutions. Attempts to produce a fourth conjugate using lipoic acid resulted in the synthesis of partially N-acetylated chitosan ethanoate. These biopolymer films were exposed to solutions containing 50 ppm concentrations of various metal ion and counterion analytes. Analyte-induced changes in film thicknesses and refractive indices were measured using a spectroscopic ellipsometer, and shifts in film color were quantified using a reflectance spectrometer. The modified chitosans were generally more sensitive to change in response to pure water but also showed varied response to several ions of interest, including Cr(III) and Cr(VI), Hg(II), Ni(II), and others. The potential for tuning film response was demonstrated by varying the concentration of sulfur groups in the thioglycolic acid conjugate, leading to increased specificity for Hg(II).