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A Photoluminescent Colorimetric Probe of Bovine Serum Albumin-Stabilized Gold Nanoclusters for New Psychoactive Substances: Cathinone Drugs in Seized Street Samples

1
Department of Forensic Science, Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau, Xindian District, New Taipei City 23149, Taiwan
2
Department of Chemistry, National Taiwan University, Taipei 10617, Taiwan
3
Department of Chemistry, National Cheng-Kung University, Tainan 70101, Taiwan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sensors 2019, 19(16), 3554; https://doi.org/10.3390/s19163554
Received: 31 July 2019 / Revised: 12 August 2019 / Accepted: 13 August 2019 / Published: 15 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Chemical Sensors)
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Abstract

Screening of illicit drugs for new psychoactive substances—namely cathinone—at crime scenes is in high demand. A dual-emission bovine serum albumin-stabilized gold nanoclusters probe was synthesized and used for quantitation and screening of 4-chloromethcathinone and cathinone analogues in an aqueous solution. The photoluminescent (PL) color of the bovine serum albumin-stabilized Au nanoclusters (BSA-Au NCs) probe solution changed from red to dark blue during the identification of cathinone drugs when excited using a portable ultraviolet light-emitting diodes lamp (365 nm). This probe solution allows the PL color-changing point and limit of detection down to 10.0 and 0.14 mM, respectively, for 4-chloromethcathinone. The phenomenon of PL color-changing of BSA-Au NCs was attributed to its PL band at 650 nm, quenching through an electron transfer mechanism. The probe solution was highly specific to cathinone drugs, over other popular illicit drugs, including heroin, cocaine, ketamine, and methamphetamine. The practicality of this BSA-Au NCs probe was assessed by using it to screen illicit drugs seized by law enforcement officers. All 20 actual cases from street and smuggling samples were validated using this BSA-Au NCs probe solution and then confirmed using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. The results reveal this BSA-Au NCs probe solution is practical for screening cathinone drugs at crime scenes. View Full-Text
Keywords: gold nanoclusters; sensor; new psychoactive substances; cathinone gold nanoclusters; sensor; new psychoactive substances; cathinone
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Yen, Y.-T.; Chen, T.-Y.; Chen, C.-Y.; Chang, C.-L.; Chyueh, S.-C.; Chang, H.-T. A Photoluminescent Colorimetric Probe of Bovine Serum Albumin-Stabilized Gold Nanoclusters for New Psychoactive Substances: Cathinone Drugs in Seized Street Samples. Sensors 2019, 19, 3554.

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