Uranium (VI) Detection in Groundwater Using a Gold Nanoparticle/Paper-based Lateral Flow Device.

Funding Source

European Regional Development Fund, Severo Ochoa program of the Spanish Ministry of Economy, National Science Foundation

Grant Number

MAT2017-87202-P, SEV-2013-0295, OISE‐1253272,


College of Pharmacy

Document Type


Publication Date



The contamination in groundwater due to the presence of uranium is nowadays a subject of concern due to the severe health problems associated with renal failure, genotoxicity and cancer. The standard methods to detect uranium require time-consuming processes and expensive non-portable equipment, so these measurements are rarely performed in-field, which increases the time until water samples are analysed. Furthermore, the few portable methods available do not allow quantitative analysis and the detection limit is often not low enough to reach the recommendations for drinking water (30 ppb or 126 nM of uranium). For the first time, we propose a portable, fast, inexpensive and sensitive paper-based biosensor able to detect in situ U(VI) in water samples: U(VI) selective gold nanoparticle-based lateral flow strips. Antibody-coated gold nanoparticles are used as labels in the proposed lateral flow system because of their biocompatibility; in addition, these nanoparticles provide high sensitivity due to their intense plasmonic effect. The antibody used in the assay recognizes soluble U(VI) complexed to the chelator, 2,9-dicarboxyl-1,10-phenanthroline (DCP). Because of the small size of the U(VI)-DCP complex, this assay employs a competitive format that reaches a limit of detection of 36.38 nM, lower than the action level (126 nM) established by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for drinking waters.


DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-34610-5

PubMed ID: 30385866

Funding text

We acknowledge Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad (MINECO), Agencia Estatal de Investigación (AEI) and Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional (FEDER) for the project MAT2017-87202-P. The ICN2 is funded by the CERCA Programme/Generalitat de Catalunya. The ICN2 is supported by the Severo Ochoa program of the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness (MINECO, grant No. SEV-2013-0295). Additional support was provided by a grant from the US National Science Foundation to D.A. Blake (OISE‐1253272). The authors thank Mr. Dámaso Navarro Torres for the design of Fig. 1 and the graphical abstract. The authors also thank Dr. Kenneth Hurst Williams of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for collecting the uranium-contaminated groundwater samples and Dr. Nurettin Sahiner for assisting in the synthesis of the uranium binding particles. D. Quesada-González also thanks Autonomous University of Barcelona for the opportunity of performing this work inside the framework of...View all