New methods for the detection and discrimination of contaminants and organic metabolites of high environmental impact by means of fluorogenic probes

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  • Research Services and Capabilities

Summary of the technology

The research group develops new selective fluorogenic probes for organic molecules of low molecular weight and high social and environmental impact. The newly developed fluorogenic probes are able of show large differences of fluorescence in the presence of certain analytes and they are oriented to the resolution of detection problems for contaminants of high environmental impact for which a satisfactory solution does not exist, such as phosphorylating reagents from chemical weapons, methylmercury, cyanide ion, doping substances and recreational abuse drugs. By incorporation of the fluorogenic probes to silica nanomaterials, the research group generates new luminescent sensory materials of toxicological and environmental utility.


Details of the Technology Offer

New and innovative aspects

The fluorogenic sensors have acquired an enormous social and economic impact, this is due to the importance that may have in the everyday life. The chemical sensors imply the design of isolated molecules or ensembles of molecules that specifically recognize a particular species in a reversible manner, in an appropriate range of concentration, ideally in trace amounts. The necessity of reversibility is an essential requisite for the continuous or “in vivo” monitorization, but for isolated individual measurements it is not necessary. On the other hand, in the most recet period the detection of an isolated analyte has been surpassed by new systems that are able of detecting diverse classes or mixtures of chemical compounds in a similar way that nature has been using in the development of human smell and taste senses. In this case, the requirements to get these objectives are very complex, therefore the preparation of luminescent signaling systems as well as luminescent devices is greatly advantageous because the fluorescent measurements are usually very sensitive, of low cost, easily performed and extremely versatile, attaining sub-micromolar detection limits. Consequently, luminescent chemical sensors play an important role in key fields such as industrial detection, medical and therapeutic diagnose in health sciences and in diverse environmental monitorization. Nanotechnology is the natural frame of evolution and progression of chemical sensors, therefore combining nanotechnology and luminescent signaling may give rise to the preparation of unique materials on the way to important developments in diverse technical areas such as optical and luminescent chemical sensors for organic analytes of high environmental impact and their implementation in more complex structures to get materials capable of signal amplification to be included in detection devices. From the programmed systems of supramolecular base we are interested in the development of fluorogenic probes for their use in chemical sensors where the recognition process is bonded to a signaling process. The chemical sensors for biomolecules such as neurotransmitters, glutamate and acetylcholine, glycine, aspartate and dopamine, NO and ATP, are very useful. In the environmental sciences, it is known that mercury derivatives, in particular methylmercury, lead and cadmium are very toxic for living organisms and their detection in the environment is very convenient. On the other hand, the chemical sensors of explosives and nerve agents are currently developed for the detection of mines and chemical weapons. With the war to the terrorism, the necessity of reliable and precise chemical and biological sensors that work in real time has notably increased. There are many types of organic molecules of critical importance for which there are not chemical sensors able to detect them, therefore it is important to expand the field of analytes that can be detected and quantified, therefore it is necessary to design and develop new specific fluorogenic probes. Fluorescence is one of the most potent mechanisms of transduction to report a chemical recognition process. The integration of fluorescent molecular probes into suitable devices gives rise to chemical sensors. Reseach has focused in the preparation of new receptors but there are very few commercial fluorogenic probes, therefore the molecular probes developed by the research group fills an empty technological space that nowadays exists.

Main advantages of its use

Many problems of biodetection or biosafety have not yet been resolved. Because of this fact, the research group designs and develops new fluorogenic sensors of environmental organic contaminants for which there are not reliable detection methods in the present days, such as phosphorylating reagents in trace amounts that can come from toxic leakages or chemical weapons reagents, methylmercury, and cyanide ion, and selective fluorogenic sensors for biomolecules of low molecular weight, especially organic metabolites of toxicological or environmental interest. To get these goals, the research group has developed a new family of fluorogenic probes capable of display large differences in the fluorescent signal in the presence of specific analytes, from which the group has developed some fluorescent probes able to discriminate between biomolecules of the same series. The advantage that the new fluorogenic probes offer is that their way of action differs from the known probes, permitting the selective detection of species for which there in no current accessible protocol, for instance discrimination between sport doping substances or abuse recreational drugs. Therefore the research group develops new fluorogenic probes suitable for analytes of high social and environmental impact and with by means of supporting the fluorogenic probes to silica nanomaterials the research group develops new sensor devices of clinical or environmental utility...


1.- Development of new OFF-ON fluorogenic probes for the fluorogenic detection of phsphorilating reagents, nerve agents or chemical weapons reagents.

Development of new sensor materials targeted to the detection of environmental organic contaminants of high interest and their application to phosphorylating reagents, nerve agents or chemical weapons reagents.

2.- Development of new fluorogenic probes for methylmercury cation and its selective detection with respect to mercury cation.

Development of new sensor materials targeted to the detection and speciation of methylmercury and mercury cations.

3.- preparation of new OFF-ON fluorogenic probes for fluorogenic recognition processes of organic contaminants and metabolites, cyanide anion and aminoacids.

Development of new sensor materials targeted to the detection of organic contaminants of environmental interest and organic metabolites derived from aminoacids.

4.- Development of new luminescent material sensors based on silica nanomaterials for the detection of organic contaminants and metabolites of high environmental impact.

Development of new sensor materials supported on silica nanomaterials, targeted to the detection of organic contaminants and metabolites of high environmental interest.

5.- Development of new luminescent sensor materials of multiple response, chromogenic, fluorogenic and paramagnetic spin resonance, for the detection of biogenic amines and their analogs of high toxicological and environmental impact.

Development of new sensor materials of multiple response, targeted to the detection of biogenic amines and their analogs used as pharmacological or recreational abuse drugs.


Enterprises of pharmacological interest, food safety and food defense industry, companies involved in production of chemical compounds with environmental concerns, industry involved in toxicological and environmental detection of chemical compounds.

Current development status

Research or Experimental.

Attached documents

Related Keywords

  • Nanomaterials
  • Agriculture and Marine Resources
  • Agrofood Industry
  • Protecting Man and Environment
  • Sustainability
  • Medical Health related
  • Other
  • drugs
  • mercury
  • Fluorogenic probes
  • nerve agents
  • cyanide
  • multiple response probes


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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