Development of a sensitive electrochemical sensor based on carbon dots and graphitic carbon nitride for the detection of 2-chlorophenol and arsenic (III) in water

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Moundzounga, Theo Herman Gael
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Vaal University of Technology
The presence of organic and inorganic pollutants in aqueous environments is one of the major challenges confronting man. It is therefore important to develop sensitive, versatile and cheap techniques for their detection. Arsenic (III), 2-chlorophenol (2-CP) and sulfamethoxazole (SMX) are priority pollutants that pose health threats to humans and animals. This study was thus aimed at exploring two promising carbon nanomaterials as electrode modifiers for the electrochemical sensing of arsenic (III), 2-CP and SMX in water. Glassy carbon electrode (GCE) was modified with a nanocomposite of carbon dots (CDs) and graphitic carbon nitride (g-C3N4) and used as a sensor for the analytes in aqueous media. The CDs was prepared by a facile one-pot hydrothermal method using pine cone as the carbon source; g-C3N4 and g-C3N4/CDs nanocomposite were prepared via the microwave irradiation heating method. CDs, g-C3N4 and g-C3N4/CDs were dropped-dried on the surface of bare GCE. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) were used to characterize the prepared materials. GCE, g-C3N4/GCE, CDs/GCE and g-C3N4/CDs/GCE electrodes were electrochemically investigated by electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) and cyclic voltammetry (CV) using a ferrocyanide [Fe (CN) 6]3-/4- redox probe. The current and the reversibility of the redox probes were enhanced in the presence of modifiers. The electrochemical behavior of arsenic (III), 2-CP and SMX on different electrodes (GCE, CDs/GCE, g-C3N4/GCE and g-C3N4/CDs/GCE) were investigated by differential pulse voltammetry (DPV) under optimized conditions in a phosphate buffer solution (pH 7.6, 6 and 5 for 2-CP, As (III) and SMX respectively). The results demonstrated that the g-C3N4/CDs/GCE electrode significantly enhanced the oxidation peak current of all three analytes. The detection sensitivity of the analytes was greatly improved, suggesting that this new modified electrode has great potential in the determination of trace level of arsenic (III), 2-CP and SMX in water. The oxidation peak currents displayed a linear relationship to concentrations for 2-CP (0.5 - 2.5 μM, R2=0.958, n=5), arsenic (III) (2 - 10 μM R2=0.978, n=5) and SMX (0.3 - 1.3 μM R2=0.9906, n=5). The detection limits of 0.62 μM, 1.64 μM and 0.10 μM were obtained for 2-CP, arsenic and SMX, respectively. Phenol and 4-chloro-3-methyl-phenol were found to interfere with the detection of 2-CP, while, Cu2+, Zn2+, Pb2+ and Cd2+ were the only significant ions that interfered with the electrochemical detection of arsenic (III). EDTA was used as a ligand to mask the interference effects of copper, cadmium, lead and zinc on arsenic sensing. The modified electrode (g-C3N4/CDs/GCE) was used to determine arsenic, 2-CP and SMX in spiked tap and effluent water samples by the standard addition method and the results showed percentage recoveries varying from 93-118% for 2-CP, 98-100% for arsenic and 80-105% for SMX. The outcomes of this study established that the nanocomposite material represents an easy and sensitive sensing platform for the monitoring of arsenic (III), 2-CP and SMX in aqueous media.
M. Tech. (Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Applied and Computer Sciences), Vaal University of Technology.
Sensitive electrochemical sensor, Carbon dots, Graphitic carbon nitride, 2-Chlorophenol, Arsenic (III), Water contamination, Environment contamination, Heavy metals removal