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A review on indole-based colorimetric and fluorescence sensors for the detection of heavy metal ions

Salman S. Alharthi

Department of Chemistry, College of Science, Taif University, Taif, Saudi Arabia



Received: 27 May 2023  Accepted: 20 August 2023


The release of a substantial amount of heavy metals into the environment has led to severe environmental pollution, with some metals posing extreme toxicity even at trace levels. Exposure to these hazardous species has been linked to various health issues, including DNA damage, neurotoxicity, kidney failure and cancer. Detecting and quantifying heavy metal ions is essential for environmental monitoring and public health protection. Among the various analytical techniques available, fluorescence and colorimetric sensing methods have gained significant attention due to their remarkable selectivity, simplicity, high sensitivity, cost-effectiveness, and rapid response. In this review, we focus on indole derivatives as promising organic compounds for the detection of heavy metal ions published from 2011 to 2023. Indole compounds exhibit significant photophysical properties, making them excellent candidates for metal ion sensing. By coordinating with metal ions, these compounds induce colorimetric or fluorescence changes, enabling specific metal ion detection in diverse matrices. This article comprehensively summarizes the design, mechanism and sensing performance of indole-based fluorescent and colorimetric sensors for various heavy metal ions.

Keywords: Chemosensor; Indole; Metal ions; Anions; Colorimetric; Analytical signals

Full paper is available at

DOI: 10.1007/s11696-023-03046-1


Chemical Papers 77 (12) 7379–7394 (2023)

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

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