BEIJING-Chinese scientists have developed a sensor by combining stainless steel acupuncture needles and nanomaterials to detect active heavy metals with high sensitivity.

Scientists from the Yantai Institute of Coastal Zone Research under the Chinese Academy of Sciences prepared a new needle-shaped sensor based on the acupuncture stainless steel needle, through the processes of insulation, sealing and functionalization with nanomaterials.

The sensor was tested in detecting the heavy metal copper in seawater. It exhibited excellent performance and ultra-high sensitivity for the detection of different forms of copper by ASV.

Heavy metals in seawater are harmful pollutants to human health and the ecological environment. According to experts, anodic stripping voltammetry (ASV) is the most simple and effective technique for the analysis of metals. However, the sensitivity of the sensor used in this method needs improvement. Novel sensors with high sensitivity for analysis of active heavy metals in seawater are needed.

The novel needle sensor showed advantages of high hardness, puncture-ability and easy integration of sensors, and it has great potential in marine electrochemistry, according to the team. The research was published in the journal Analytical Methods.