BANGALORE: Palladium is a metal used to make drugs, fuel cells and to decrease emission of harmful compounds from vehicular exhaust. However, the accumulation of this metal in food can cause serious health hazards. Hence, the detection of palladium in the environment is very essential.
A group from the Indian Institute of Science has developed a probe to detect palladium even in tiny amounts without the hassle of expensive equipment and complex procedures.
This probe has a variety of applications. It was developed by Prof Santanu Bhattacharya’s group at the Department of Organic Chemistry and it can selectively detect the dangerous forms of palladium instantaneously. The findings were published in Chemistry, an Asian journal, recently.
The probe can be used to estimate palladium concentration in water samples. It can visually detect minute amounts of residual palladium present in glassware used for carrying out experiments with palladium, even after it has been rinsed with laboratory detergent or water. Further, it was found that a sure way to remove such residual palladium is to wash with acetone.
Detection of palladium is possible using both ultraviolet/ visual (UV/Vis) and fluorescence spectroscopy.
Nilanjan Dey, who worked on this probe as a student of Bhattacharya, said “It is useful to have both UV/Vis and fluorescence analysis. While many times visual detection is useful, it cannot be relied on to detect intercellular palladium contaminants in the body. Then detection through fluorescence spectroscopy comes in handy.”
The probe has been tested and shown to work in determining residual palladium, pharmaceutical products, real-life water samples as well as detecting palladium contaminants in mammalian cells. Further, for fast track detection, portable strips have been prepared using filter paper.
If palladium is present in the sample, the probe changes its structure and the colour changes to bright pink. The minimum detectable concentration of palladium was found to be 62.79 nano gram/litre, which is much lower than the permitted level of palladium in drinking water.
Researchers found through experiments that this probe can clearly distinguish between different forms of palladium. Also, palladium could be detected even if it was part of other compounds and complexes.The pharmaceutical industry makes use of reactions catalysed by palladium in drug design. The probe can be used to detect the palladium contaminant in the end product.