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We demonstrate a new electroanalytical technique using nanoemulsions (NEs) as a nanoextractor combined with single entity electrochemistry (SEE) to separate, preconcentrate analytes from bulk media, and even detect them in situ, enabling ultratrace level analysis. This approach is based on our hypothesis that the custom-designed NEs would enable to effectively scavenge compounds from bulk media. Herein, we use Pluronic F-127 functionalized NEs to extract, preconcentrate target analytes e.g., ferrocene derivatives as a model aromatic toxicant dissolved in the water, and employ SEE to in situ detect and quantitatively estimate analytes extracted in individual NEs. Extraction was markedly efficient to reach ∼8 orders of magnitude of preconcentration factor under the true equilibrium, thereby enabling ultratrace level analysis with a detection limit of ∼0.2 ppb. The key step to attain high sensitivity in our measurements was to modulate the total amount of added NEs respect to the total volume of bulk solution, thereby controlling the extracted amount of analytes in each NE. Our approach is readily applicable to investigate other aromatic toxicants dissolved in the water, thus detecting hazardous carcinogen, 2-aminobiphenyl in the water up to ∼0.1 ppb level. Given the excellent detection performance as well as the broad applicability for ubiquitous aromatic contaminants, the combination of NEs with SEE offers great prospects as a sensor for environmental applications.

Kim_J_TowardsUltralow_2021_SuppInfo.pdf (1020 kB)
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