Detecting traces of 17α-ethinylestradiol in complex water matrices

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Hormones have a harmful impact on the environment and their detection in water bodies is an urgent matter. In this work, we present and analyze a sensor device able to detect traces of the synthetic hormone 17α-ethinylestradiol (EE2) below 10−9 M in media of different complexities, namely, ultrapure, mineral and tap waters. This device consists of solid supports with interdigitated electrodes without and with a polyethylenimine (PEI) and poly (sodium 4-styrenesulfonate) (PSS) layer-by-layer film deposited on it. Device response was evaluated through capacitance, loss tangent and electric modulus spectra and the data were analyzed by principal component analysis method. While the three types of spectra were demonstrated to be able to clearly discriminate the different media, loss tangent spectra allow for the detection of EE2 concentration, with a sensitivity of −0.072 ± 0.009 and −0.44 ± 0.03 per decade of concentration, for mineral and tap water, respectively. Detection limits values were found to be lower than the ones present in the literature and presenting values of 8.6 fM (2.6 pg/L) and of 7.5 fM (22.2 pg/L) for tap and mineral waters, respectively. Moreover, the obtained response values follow the same behavior with EE2 concentration in any medium, meaning that loss tangent spectra allow the quantification of EE2 concentration in aqueous complex matrices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7324
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2020


  • Capacitance
  • EE2
  • Electric modulus
  • Hormone
  • Impedance
  • Interdigitated electrodes
  • Layer-by-layer films
  • Loss tangent
  • PCA
  • Sensor


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