Molecular Probe and Sensor for Detecting Cu2+

The detection of trace quantities of copper in environmental and biological samples is in high demand. Numerous analytical techniques are available to detect trace quantities of Cu2+, including atomic absorption spectrometry, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, flame photometry, gravimetric detection, chromatography, fluorometry, and electrochemistry. Limitations of these techniques include sample pretreatment, use of complicated, bulky, and expensive instruments, and sophisticated procedures. These limitations are time-consuming and a challenge for the routine analysis of multiple environmental samples or onsite monitoring.

Technology Description
Oregon State University researchers have developed a novel multifunctional dendritic molecular probe that selectively detects Cu2+ ions via potentiometric and fluorometric techniques with low detection limits (4 μM in potentiometry, 31 nM in fluorimetry). The selective and reversible binding of the molecule with the Cu2+ ion was used to make a solid-state microsensor (diameter of 25 μm) by incorporating the molecular probe into a carbon-based membrane as an ionophore for Cu (II) (Figure 1). The use of a potentiometric ion-selective electrode provides the potential for a simple, low-cost, and portable sensor for onsite environmental applications. There may also be potential for developing diagnostic or prognostic test for diseases such as Wilson’s disease.

Features & Benefits

  • Selectively detects Cu2+ ions via potentiometric and fluorometric techniques with low detection limits
  • Portable for on‑site applications
  • The potentiometric ion-selective electrode provides a simple and low‑cost sensor


  • Environmental sensors and diagnostics

Provisional patent; Patent application submitted

Patent Information:
Tech ID:
Joe Christison
Assistant Director, IP & Licensing
Oregon State University
Dipankar Koley
Partha Sheet
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