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Journal of Nanomaterials
Volume 2013, Article ID 501320, 13 pages
Review Article

Sensing Heavy Metals Using Mesoporous-Based Optical Chemical Sensors

1Institute of Environmental Protection and Sensors, Beloruska 7, 2000 Maribor, Slovenia
2University of Maribor, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Centre of Sensor Technology, Smetanova 17, 2000 Maribor, Slovenia

Received 10 May 2013; Revised 30 July 2013; Accepted 18 September 2013

Academic Editor: Pathik Kumbhakar

Copyright © 2013 Špela Korent Urek et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Heavy metal pollution is one of the more serious environmental problems; therefore, there is a constant demand for the development of new analytical tools for its monitoring. An optical chemical sensor represents a good alternative to classical instrumental methods. The mesoporous materials used in optical chemical sensors’ fabrications have properties such as high porosity, exceptional adsorption capacity, tuneable 3D shape, geometry, and morphology, which enable improved limit of detection, response time, and selectivity properties of optical sensors. In this review, we firstly present the properties of mesoporous materials, provide a brief description of sensing mechanisms, and briefly discuss the importance of continuous monitoring. Recent advances in those mesoporous silica-based optical sensors used for heavy metal detection have been reported and their advantages and limitations also discussed. This review covers publications that have appeared since 2008.