Field Portable Fluorescent Sensing Methods for Detecting Superfund Pollutants


Fluorescent reagents based on conjugate polymers have proven useful for inexpensive and field-portable detection of nanogram to femtogram levels of nitroaromatic explosives, which have been commercialized. Conjugated polymers are advantageous in such sensing applications, because delocalization of their excited state exciton along the polymer chain provides sensor amplification and remarkable sensitivity. This technology will be adapted to design tests for separating and detecting toxicants, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, found at Superfund sites.  Fluorescent polymer reagents will be end-functionalized so they can be covalently anchored to chromatographic supports in order to permit separation of mixtures. This new technology will be developed with the aim of an inexpensive kit for the rapid simultaneous separation and identification of polycyclic aromatic organic Superfund toxicants that exhibit carcinogenic and/or endocrine disrupting properties.  New fluorometric reagents will also be developed to separate and identify arsenate, cadmium(II), lead(II), mercury(II), and chromium(VI), which are common Superfund inorganic toxicants found in contaminated sites.  Special emphasis in the proposed work centers on specific toxicants that are being examined by other investigators in the center. The most promising analyses will be multiplexed on larger chromatographic substrates for quantification using microplate imaging methods.  New fluorescent reagents developed for these tests are promising in other center applications, such as visualizing and localizing toxicants within whole organisms and cells.  Thin-layer-chromatographic fluorescent assays that are low cost and readily portable could also be adapted to other applications, such as screening for hyperaccumulating plants, which are being examined in the UCSD center and are interesting because of their potential in remediation of arsenic soil contamination.  

New UCSD Siliafluorene polymer sensor spray used to image trace TNT explosive particles left on a surface by someone who handled the explosive by fluorescence quenching.

New UCSD Siliafluorene polymer sensor spray used to image trace TNT explosive particles left on a surface by someone who handled the explosive by fluorescence quenching.


PubMed Central ID: 

Munemasa, S., Hauser, F., Park, J., Waadt, R., Brandt, B., Schroeder, J. I. (2015) Mechanisms of abscisic acid-mediated control of stomatal aperture. Curr Opin Plant Biol. 154-162. doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2015.10.010.

PubMedID: 26599955
PubMed Central ID: 

Liu, Y., Trogler, W. C. (2015) Comment on 'Fluorescence sensing of arsenate at nanomolar level in a greener way: naphthalene based probe for living cell imaging. Chem Commun (Camb). 51(79),14775-7.

PubMedID: 26299989
PubMed Central ID: 

Mitchell, K. K., Sandoval, S., Cortes-Mateos, M. J., Alfaro, J. G., Kummel, A. C., Trogler, W. C. (2014)  Self-assembled Targeting of Cancer Cells by Iron(III)-doped, Silica Nanoparticles. J Mater Chem B Mater Biol Med. 2(45), 8017-8025.

PubMedID: 25364507
PubMed Central ID: 
Liberman, A., Mendez, N., Trogler, W. C., Kummel, A.C. (2014) Synthesis and surface functionalization of silica nanoparticles for nanomedicine. Surf Sci Rep. 69(2-3), 132-158.
PubMedID: 25364083
PubMed Central ID: 

Pohaku Mitchell, K. K., Liberman, A., Kummel, A. C., Trogler, W. C. (2012) Iron(III)-doped, silica nanoshells: a biodegradable form of silica. J Am Chem Soc. 134(34), 13997-4003.

PubMedID: 22871140

Main Contact Information

Project Leader

  • Dr. William C. Trogler

Superfund Related Project Members

  • Yuanli Liu, Post-Doctoral Scholar


UCSD Chemistry and Biochemistry

UCSD Center for Advanced Neuroscience

References From PubMed (NCBI)

William C. Trogler, Ph.D.
University of California, San Diego
Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
9500 Gilman Drive, Mail code 0358
La Jolla, CA 92093-0358
P: 858-534-6175 F: 858-534-5383


UCSD Superfund Research Center
University of California, San Diego
Pharmacology Department
9500 Gilman Drive, Mail Code 0722
La Jolla, CA 92093-0722