TEACHING ADVANCED ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY USING COST EFFECTIVE NANOMATERIALS: A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
Sample preparation constitutes one of the most important steps of current analytical procedures, especially when complex matrices are analysed. As it is well-known, it has as main objective the selective extraction and preconcentration of the target analytes in order to increase the method sensitivity. Thus, a suitable design of this step is usually crucial to guarantee the quantitative extraction of the analytes as well as the elimination of as many interferents as possible.
Sorbent-based extraction techniques are one of the sample preparation procedures most extensively used due to the selectivity and versatility they offer. In this sense, the use of nanomaterials as sorbents, which is a trend in the field, has provided an important advance in this kind of techniques, especially due to their extraordinary extraction capacity and selectivity which have allowed their application to the analysis of a wide variety of compounds in matrices of very different nature. Among the nanomaterials mostly used in this field it could be highlighted the use of metal-organic frameworks, carbon-based materials (graphene, carbon nanotubes, carbon nanohorns, nanodiamonds, etc.), coated magnetic nanoparticles or composites of them, among others.
In the Master’s Degree in Chemistry of the University of La Laguna, several subjects provide students with the opportunity to deepen the latest advances in sample preparation, as well as in separation and determination techniques, performing practical classes that allow them to acquire dexterity in the management and application of many of them. For that purpose, it is sought that students acquire new skills that provide greater security when facing the resolution of problems within the current trends of Analytical Chemistry. Like in any other master’s degree, such practical classes should also include highly updated and relevant issues.
In this work, we propose a particular strategy based on self-learning in which students have to synthesize and use different magnetic and nonmagnetic cost-effective nanomaterials for the extraction of a group of pollutants from water samples. The students have shown their satisfaction with the practical classes proposed and the methodology applied in several surveys, which is also reflected in the results obtained in the final evaluation, where it is clear that they have acquired a high knowledge of this type of techniques.