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Compartmentalizing Incompatible Tandem Reactions in Pickering Emulsions To Enable Visual Colorimetric Detection of Nitramine Explosives Using a Smartphone

Xie, Zhenyang, Ge, Huilin, Du, Jiayan, Duan, Tao, Yang, Guangcheng, He, Yi
Analytical chemistry 2018 v.90 no.19 pp. 11665-11670
alkaline hydrolysis, color, colorimetry, detection limit, emulsions, explosives, ions, mobile telephones, nitrites, nitrous acid, quantitative analysis, temperature
We report a visual colorimetric assay for detection of nitramine explosives such as 1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazinane (RDX) and 1,3,5,7-tetranitro-1,3,5,7-tetrazocane (HMX) using a smartphone. This assay is based on compartmentalizing incompatible tandem reactions in Pickering emulsions. The alkaline hydrolysis of RDX or HMX in one Pickering emulsion produces nitrite ions, which autodiffuse into the other Pickering emulsion to form nitrous acid. It oxidizes the 3,3′,5,5′-tetramethylbenzidine (TMB) to generate yellow TMB diimine. The RGB component change of the optical images is applied to quantitatively determine the RDX and HMX at different reaction temperatures. A distinct color change occurs at RDX and HMX concentrations of 1.2 and 12 μM, respectively. The adjusted intensity increases linearly with the increase of the logarithms of the concentrations of RDX and HMX in the range of 1.2–90 μM and 12–90 μM, respectively. The limits of detection of RDX and HMX are 96 and 110 nM, respectively. Importantly, this assay is employed for the detection of RDX and HMX in real water, proving the applicability of the assay in real-world samples.