Date of Graduation

Fall 2015


Master of Science in Chemistry



Committee Chair

Adam Wanekaya


carbon nanoparticles, fluorescence, square wave voltammetry, lead, copper, mercury

Subject Categories



This research set out to develop a method for producing Carbon nanoparticles (CNPs) from glycerol and use them to detect Cu2+, Hg2+, and Pb2+ ions in aqueous solution. Three synthesis methods were developed using the following mixtures: (1) glycerol and silica, (2) glycerol, silica, and H3PO4, and (3) glycerol with H3PO4. The structure of the particles was characterized using a variety of spectroscopic techniques. Size distributions were obtained from scanning electron microscopy images. The particles were spherical with average diameters of 66, 58, and 89 nm respectively and believed to consist of a carbon core with carboxylic acid and alcohol functional groups on the surface. Glassy carbon electrodes modified with CNPs were used for metal detection by square wave voltammetry and the following parameter were optimized: electrode preparation, accumulation time, reduction time, reduction potential, pulse height, and pulse width. Calibration curves for each metal were produced and detection limits were calculated. The detection limits for Cu2+, Hg2+, and Pb2+ were 0.50 ppm, 31 ppm and 0.30 ppm and the sensitivity of the calibration curves were 13.8 mA/ppm, 0.994 mA/ppm, and 40.4 mA/ppm respectively. These detection limits were compared to the maximum contaminant limits set by the EPA and it was shown that this system could detect Cu2+ at levels lower than the set limits.


© Aaron Michael Simpson

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