Development of surface plasmon resonance-based sensor for detection of silver nanoparticles in food and the environment

Rebe-Raz, S.; Leontaridou, M.; Bremer, M.G.E.G.; Peters, R.J.B.; Weigel, S.


Silver nanoparticles are recognized as effective antimicrobial agents and have been implemented in various consumer products including washing machines, refrigerators, clothing, medical devices, and food packaging. Alongside the silver nanoparticles benefits, their novel properties have raised concerns about possible adverse effects on biological systems. To protect consumer’s health and the environment, efficient monitoring of silver nanoparticles needs to be established. Here, we present the development of human metallothionein (MT) based surface plasmon resonance (SPR) sensor for rapid detection of nanosilver. Incorporation of human metallothionein 1A to the sensor surface enables screening for potentially biologically active silver nanoparticles at parts per billion sensitivity. Other protein ligands were also tested for binding capacity of the nanosilver and were found to be inferior to the metallothionein. The biosensor has been characterized in terms of selectivity and sensitivity towards different types of silver nanoparticles and applied in measurements of real-life samples—such as fresh vegetables and river water. Our findings suggest that human MT1-based SPR sensor has the potential to be utilized as a routine screening method for silver nanoparticles, that can provide rapid and automated analysis dedicated to environmental and food safety monitoring.