Detection of heavy metal ions using a water-soluble conjugated polymer based on thiophene and meso-2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid


Correspondence to: Marco Laurenti,Department of Physical Chemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy,Complutense University of Madrid,Plaza Ramon y Cajal s/n, 28040, Madrid, Spain. E-mail:


This work reports the synthesis of a new water-soluble conjugated polymer, which interacts specifically with heavy metal ions such as lead and mercury. In order to produce such a material, the fluorescent properties of polythiophene, which constitutes the polymer backbone, were combined with the chelating capacity of meso-2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid, which forms the side-chain of the conjugated polymer. Thus, the new polymer acts as chemical complexing agent, the fluorescence of which is quenched in the presence of heavy metal ions. A possible explanation of the mechanism of such a variation is also discussed. The system presented is envisaged to be used as a sensor for heavy metal ions that appear as pollutants in the environment.