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Glowing report for nerve agent detection
10 September 2007
A chemiluminescent sensor could be used to detect sarin with a glow response, say US scientists.
Anslyn's system is based the chemiluminescence of oxalate esters. This is a well-known and well-understood phenomenon, where oxalate esters produce chemiluminescence - luminescence as a result of a chemical reaction - in the presence of fluorescent dyes such as diphenylanthracene.
Anslyn's team modified this system by adding a super-nucleophile called an oximate. This molecule reacts with the oxalate ester in the system, blocking the chemiluminescence reaction. But when the sarin analogue DFP is present the oximate prefers to react with the phosphorous in the toxic molecule instead. This leaves the oxalate esters free to trigger the luminescence.
Work is underway to hone the system for practical use. 'The use of chemiluminescence is fascinating and has many possibilities, and we are just venturing into this area,' said Anslyn.
Link to journal article
Novel chemiluminescent detection of chemical warfare simulant
Himali S. Hewage, Karl J. Wallace and Eric V. Anslyn, Chem. Commun., 2007, 3909
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