Superfund Research Program
Gold Nanoparticle-Based Mercury Analyzer for On-Site Measurement of Soil and Sediment
Project Leader: Jay James
Grant Number: R44ES023729
Funding Period: Phase II: August 2015 – July 2017
The Picoyune research team is developing a powerful and portable mercury analyzer. This project continues the work from Phase I, by combining the nanoparticle based detector with a thermal/catalytic sample introduction system. Gold nanoparticle-based plasmonic mercury sensing is inexpensive, ultra-sensitive, and ideal for portable applications. The thermal/catalytic sample introduction system will be low power, with low sample loss and high throughput. It also does not require the use of wet chemicals or other consumables. The commercial instrument resulting from combining these two subsystems will be lightweight (<20lbs), sensitive to levels of concern for remediation (<6mg/kg Hg), and operate on battery power.
The researchers are conducting extensive field-testing to ensure the mercury sensor is suitable for replacing the current costly and time-consuming laboratory methods. The development of such a device will benefit all parties concerned with mercury monitoring and the remediation of contaminated sites. Mercury monitoring costs hundreds of millions of dollars a year across diverse scientific, industrial, and regulatory groups. This project will aid in the monitoring and remediation of sites contaminated with mercury, reducing the public's exposure to this neurotoxin.