Detection and quantification “in situ” of mercury, copper and nitrites in water and food products using a polymeric detector

  • From Spain
  • Responsive
  • Patents for licensing

Summary of the technology

The method developed in this patent is based on the use of cross-linked copolymers, which act as colorimetric sensors, for the detection and / or quantification of divalent metals: mercury [Hg (II)] and copper [Cu (II)]; and anions: nitrite (NO2-). It is applicable in different matrices, both aqueous mediums and food products.


New and innovative aspects

The possibility of detecting and/or quantifying, with the same method, both divalent metals (mercury and copper) and oxidizing anions (nitrites), makes it very versatile and turn it into unique in the market. In addition, this versatility is transferred to the measurement, which can be carried out with different equipment. In addition, it does not produce colour migrations.

The developed device can be applied to any type of sample without prior treatment, in a simpler way than the other available methods.

Main advantages of its use

This method does not require the utilization of chemical reagents or the use of extremely expensive laboratory equipment. The results are shown quantitatively with great precision.


This invention is based on the preparation and development of new cross-linked copolymers, obtained by structures of formula I, derived from dithizone.

The polymers are obtained by copolymerization of three or more monomers, among which polyfunctional monomers are included, to give rise to materials with good mechanical properties, both in dry and in swelling, which behave as solid colorimetric sensors. They can be presented as films, dense or porous membrane and/or gel.

These cross-linked copolymers are membranes that act as chromogenic sensors, i.e., they are materials that change their color in the presence of certain substances. That color change takes place when divalent metal cations and/or oxidazing anions are present in the medium.

For the detection of analytes, it is required, at least, the use of a method, independently chosen between: the use of the RGB parameters of a digital photograph or the use of spectroscopic techniques.


It presents a high responsiveness in:

  • Drinking water.
  • Industrial water: for example, in the gold mining industry.
  • Food products: mercury can be present in different fish and, due to its toxicity in the body, it is very important to detect it before its consumption.
  • Biomedical healthcare industry: urine, saliva, blood serum, etc.

Intellectual property status

Protected by PCT/EP2018/055317

Current development status

Several prototypes have been manufactured in collaboration with a research centre.

Desired business relationship

Commercial agreement; License agreement; Technical cooperation: further development; Technical cooperation: testing new applications; Technical cooperation: adaptation to specific needs

    Intellectual property status

    Related Keywords

    • Industrial Technologies
    • Agriculture and Marine Resources
    • Agrofood Industry
    • Measurements and Standards
    • Protecting Man and Environment
    • Medical Health related
    • Industrial Products


    The aim of the The Technology Transfer Office (TTO) of the Univesidad de Burgos is to promote Innovation technology through the reseach results transfer and the conexions between the University and the new needs and requirements of the society - we are the link between the University and the Industry. Contact person: José Manuel López (


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