Hydrazine has nowhere to hide

29-Aug-2013 - USA

Scientists in the US and Korea have developed a highly sensitive fluorescent probe that can detect a toxic chemical used in industrial processes in a variety of different environments – including living cells.

Hydrazine is used in in many different applications – as the gas-forming agent in air bags, in power plants to reduce corrosion and even as fuel for satellites and rockets. But care must be taken when using it as it is highly toxic to humans.

The new sensor uses a naphthalimide derivative that binds specifically to hydrazine and undergoes a hydrazine-induced cyclisation, which causes a visible colour change. The scientists showed that this on-off fluorescent response could be used to selectively detect hydrazine in water and air. They also showed that the sensor is sufficiently biocompatible to detect the chemical in living cells.

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