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MEI Online: Commodities: Metallic Ores: Lead: Latest News: June 26th 2002

:: New Molecule Detects Lead  

A molecule that glows turquoise when it sticks to lead could be a new detector for the poisonous metal pollutant. It could help monitor lead levels in water supplies, or track the molecule's effects on the body.

"Fluorescence is more sensitive and much easier," than today's long, complicated lead tests, says Chao-Tsen Chen at the National Taiwan University in Taipei, who built the new molecule with colleague Wan-Pei Huang. The duo call their prototype 'chemosensor 1'.
Lead is an industrial pollutant from smelters and battery manufacture.

Chemosensor1 is based on two oft-used molecules: a crown-shaped one into which metal ions fit and a fluorescent chemical that glows brighter under certain conditions. Sensors for calcium and zinc contain similar compounds.

Using this technology for lead, says chemosensor pioneer Anthony Czarnic of Sensors for Medicine and Science, Inc. is "quite remarkable." Lead, a heavy metal, is renowned for stopping fluorescent molecules from working. The new compound glows 40-times brighter in the presence of lead ions.




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