Biochemistry, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version



Scientific Reports | (2023) 13:10761 |


Open access.


The extensive usage and production of copper may lead to toxic effects in organisms due to its accumulation in the environment. Traditional methods for copper detection are time consuming and infeasible for field usage. It is necessary to discover a real-time, rapid and economical method for detecting copper to ensure human health and environmental safety. Here we developed a colorimetric paper strip method and optimized spectrum method for rapid detection of copper ion based on the specific copper chelator bathocuproinedisulfonic acid disodium salt (BCS). Both biological assays and chemical methods verified the specificity of BCS for copper. The optimized reaction conditions were 50 mM Tris–HCl pH 7.4, 200 μM BCS, 1 mM ascorbate and less than 50 μM copper. The detection limit of the copper paper strip test was 0.5 mg/L by direct visual observation and the detection time was less than 1 min. The detection results of grape, peach, apple, spinach and cabbage by the optimized spectrum method were 0.91 μg/g, 0.87 μg/g, 0.19 μg/g, 1.37 μg/g and 0.39 μg/g, respectively. The paper strip assays showed that the copper contents of grape, peach, apple, spinach and cabbage were 0.8 mg/L, 0.9 mg/L, 0.2 mg/L, 1.3 mg/L and 0.5 mg/L, respectively. These results correlated well with those determined by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). The visual detection limit of the paper strip based on Cu-BCS-AgNPs was 0.06 mg/L. Our study demonstrates the potential for on-site, rapid and cost-effective copper monitoring of foods and the environment.