Metal-Free Colorimetric Detection of Pyrophosphate Ions by Inhibitive Nanozymatic Carbon Dots

Chong You Chen, Ying Zi Tan, Ping Hsuan Hsieh, Chang Ming Wang, Hiroyuki Shibata, Kento Maejima, Ting Yi Wang, Yuki Hiruta, Daniel Citterio, Wei Ssu Liao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


The pyrophosphate ion (P2O7 4-, PPi) plays a critical role in various biological processes and acts as an essential indicator for physiological mechanism investigations and disease control monitoring. However, most of the currently available approaches for PPi species detection for practical usage still lack appropriate indicator generation, straightforward detection requirements, and operation convenience. In this study, a highly sensitive and selective PPi detection approach via the use of nanozymatic carbon dots (CDs) is introduced. This strategy eliminates the common need for metal ions in the detection process, where a direct indicator-PPi interaction is adopted to provide straightforward signal reports, and importantly, through a green indicator preparation. The preparation of this nanozymatic CDs' indicator utilizes an aqueous solution refluxing, employing galactose and histidine as the precursor materials. The mild conditions of the solution refluxing produce fluorescent CDs exhibiting peroxidase-mimic properties, which can catalyze the o-phenylenediamine oxidation under the presence of H2O2. The introduction of PPi species, interestingly, inhibits this process very efficiently, the extent of which can be colorimetrically monitored by the generated yellow product 2,3-diaminophenazine. Spectroscopic results point to CD surface functional groups' selective binding toward PPi species, which severely interferes with the electron transfer process in the enzymatic catalysis. Relying on this CD peroxidase-mimetic property inhibition, sensitive and selective recognition of PPi reaches a detection limit of 4.29 nM, enabling practical usage in complex matrixes. Owing to the superior compatibility and high stability of nanozymatic CDs, they can also be inkjet-printed on paper-based devices to create a portable and convenient platform for PPi detection. Both the solution and the paper-device-based selective recognitions confirm this unique and robust metal-free inhibitive PPi detection, which is supported by a convenient green preparation of nanozymatic CDs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1314-1324
Number of pages11
JournalACS Sensors
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2020 May 22


  • carbon dot
  • colorimetric
  • nanoenzyme
  • paper device
  • pyrophosphate ion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Instrumentation
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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