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A review on metal nanozyme-based sensing of heavy metal ions: Challenges and future perspectives

Binesh Unnikrishnan, Chia-Wen Lien, Han-Wei Chu, Chih-Ching Huang
Journal of hazardous materials 2021 v.401 pp. 123397
catalytic activity, groundwater, heavy metals, pollution, rapid methods, spectrophotometers, toxicity, ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy, water table
Large scale mining, manufacturing industries, exploitation of underground water, depletion of groundwater level, and uncontrolled discharge of industrial wastes have caused severe heavy metal ion pollution to the environment throughout the world. Therefore, the rapid detection of such toxic metal ions is inevitable. However, conventional methods require sophisticated instruments and skilled manpower and are difficult to operate in on-field conditions. Recently, metal nanozyme-based assays have been found to have the potential as an alternative to conventional methods due to their portability, simplicity, and high sensitivity to detect metal ion concentration to as low as parts per trillion (ppt). Metal nanozyme-based systems for heavy metal ions enable rapid and cheap screening on the spot with a very simple instrument such as a UV–vis absorption spectrophotometer and therefore, are convenient for use in field operations, especially in remote parts of the world. The sensing mechanism of a nanozyme-based sensor is highly dependent on its surface properties and specific interactions with particular metal ion species. Such method often encounters selectivity issues, unlike natural enzyme-based assays. Therefore, in this review, we mainly focus our discussion on different types of target recognition and inhibition/enhancement mechanisms, and their responses toward the catalytic activity in the sensing of target metal ions, design strategies, challenges, and future perspectives.