Nanoparticles for rapid pesticide screening

Researchers from NUS Food Science and Technology have developed novel magnetic nanoparticles that can effectively and efficiently screen for trace amounts of pesticide residue in vegetable samples. Led by Assistant Professor Yang Hongshun and PhD student Yu Xi, the team synthesised polystyrene coated nanoparticles that can rapidly extract pyrethorids — one of the synthetic pesticides commonly used to improve crop yield — using simple magnetic separation.  

This innovative method allows extraction and analysis to be completed within two hours, a contrast to current methods involving costly procedures that can take up to six hours to complete. The nanoparticles can also detect pyrethorid molecules at concentrations of as low as 0.02 nanogram per gram of vegetable, which Asst Prof Yang estimates to be about 10 times more sensitive than current techniques.

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