The study of binding affinity is essential in surface plasmon resonance (SPR) sensing because it allows researchers to quantify the affinity between the analyte and immobilised ligands of an SPR sensor. In this study, we demonstrate the derivation of the binding affinity constant, K, for Pb2+and Hg2+ions according to their SPR response using a gold/silver/gold/chitosan-graphene oxide (Au/Ag/Au/CS-GO) sensor for the concentration range of 0.1-5 ppm. The higher affinity of Pb2+to binding with the CS-GO sensor explains the outstanding sensitivity of 2.05 °ppm-1against 1.66 °ppm-1of Hg2+. The maximum signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) upon detection of Pb2+is 1.53, and exceeds the suggested logical criterion of an SNR. The Au/Ag/Au/CS-GO SPR sensor also exhibits excellent repeatability in Pb2+due to the strong bond between its functional groups and this cation. The adsorption data of Pb2+and Hg2+on the CS-GO sensor fits well with the Langmuir isotherm model where the affinity constant, K, of Pb2+and Hg2+ions is computed. The affinity of Pb2+ions to the Au/Ag/Au/CS-GO sensor is significantly higher than that of Hg2+based on the value of K, 7 × 10⁵ M-1and 4 × 10⁵ M-1, respectively. The higher shift in SPR angles due to Pb2+and Hg2+compared to Cr3+, Cu2+and Zn2+ions also reveals the greater affinity of the CS-GO SPR sensor to them, thus supporting the rationale for obtaining K for these two heavy metals. This study provides a better understanding on the sensing performance of such sensors in detecting heavy metal ions.
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