Monitoring of metallic contaminants in domestic and agricultural water systems requires technology that is fast, flexible, sensitive, and selective. Recently, metal sensors based on catalytic DNA have been demonstrated as a practical monitoring solution. Very little is known, however, about the atomic scale interactions between the DNA-based sensors and the metal contaminant to which the sensor is targeted. Here, we present the results of an X-ray absorption spectroscopy study of a mercury sensor which illustrates the nature of the Hg-DNA interaction.
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