Our proposed project, Gold nanoparticle-based mercury analyzer for on-site measurements of soil and sediment, will develop a powerful and portable mercury analyzer. This project will continue the work from Phase I, by combining the nanoparticle based detector with a thermal/catalytic sample introduction system. Gold nanoparticle-based plasmonic mercury sensing is inexpensive, ultra-sensitive, and ideal for portable applications. The thermal/catalytic sample introduction system will be low power, with low sample loss and high throughput; it also does not require the use of wet chemicals or other consumables. The commercial instrument resulting from combining these two subsystems will be lightweight (<20lbs), sensitive to levels of concern for remediation (<6mg/kg Hg), and operate on battery power. Extensive field-testing will be conducted to ensure the mercury sensor is suitable for replacing the current costly and time-consuming laboratory methods. The development of such a device will benefit all parties concerned with mercury monitoring and the remediation of contaminated sites. Mercury monitoring costs hundreds of millions of dollars a year across diverse scientific, industrial, and regulatory groups. The fundamental issue these groups address is protecting human health, and the environment, from the risks of mercury pollution.
This project addresses the pressing health concerns around mercury pollution. This project will aid in the monitoring and remediation of sites contaminated with mercury, reducing the public's exposure to this neurotoxin.