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Metal-Organic Framework for Selective Discrimination and Removal of Toxic Metal Ions

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Hassan Azzazy
Professor of Chemistry
Ahmed Shahat
Hassan Hassan
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Chemosensors, compositions and uses thereof

US Patent Pending US 14/766,187
Optical metal-organic framework sensor for selective discrimination of some toxic metal ions in water.
Analytica Chimica Acta, Volume 793, 2 September 2013, Pages 90–98


A highly sensitive and selective, cost-effective sensor was developed for the rapid detection and removal of traces of toxic metal ions such as Bi(III), Zn(II), Pb(II), Hg(II) and Cd(II)  in water samples. The sensor can be used for the detection and removal of metal ions in the following applications:

●  Industrial process management

●  Chemical threat detection

●  Medical diagnostics

●   Food quality control

●   Environmental monitoring


The monitoring of heavy metals within the environment, drinking water, food, and biological fluids has become essential due to the increased environmental awareness and stringent regulations for pollution control. Heavy metals are released into the environment mainly by industrial activities. In small quantities, certain heavy metals such as iron, copper, manganese, and zinc are nutritionally essential for a healthier life. However, heavy metals such as Hg, As, Pb, and Cd are highly toxic and carcinogenic, even at the trace levels . The toxicity and bioaccumulative properties of most heavy metals make its control a top-priority environmental task. A wide range of laboratory-based techniques for heavy metal detection are based on standard spectroscopic methods. Although these methods are sensitive and selective they require time-intensive sampled pretreatment and expensive analytical instrumentation, as well as highly qualified staff. There is an urgent need for simpler, inexpensive, rapid, sensitive and selective sensors that would allow large scale monitoring of heavy metals.


This invention entails the development of a simple and effective (UiO-66) sensor,  based on the use of Zr-based metal-organic frameworks  with micropores geometry for the visual detection and removal of ultra-traces of some toxic metal ions.  A portable colorimetric detection method is simple, and eliminates the need for sophisticated instruments as results can be observed by the naked eye. UiO-66 was used as selective carriers for accommodating hydrophobic chromophore probes such as dithizone (DZ) without coupling agent for sensitive and selective discrimination of trace level of toxic analytes. The developed UiO-66 sensor was utilized for visual detection of ultra-traces of toxic metal ions. The new sensor displays high sensitivity and selectivity for a wide range of detectable metal analytes up to 10(-10) mol/ dm(-3) in solution, in a rapid analyte uptake response (seconds). The developed sensor is stable, cost effective, easy to prepare, and would be useful for rapid detection and removal of ultra-traces of toxic metal ions in water samples.


●   Inexpensive and easily manufactured sensor.

●   Portability: does not require complicated analytical instruments

●   Enhanced responses and selectivity with respect to comparable indicator or probe molecules.

●   Higher sensitivity and selectivity (over a 1000 x compared with the same probe in solution).

●   Sensitive and selective to a wide range of detectable metals analytes up to (10-10 mol/dm3 in solution).

●   Rapid analyte uptake response (within seconds).

●   High stability.