A simple approach to sensor development based on encapsulating a probe molecule in a cellulose support followed by regeneration from an ionic liquid solution is demonstrated here by the codissolution of cellulose and 1-(2-pyridylazo)-2- naphthol in 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride followed by regeneration with water to form strips which exhibit a proportionate (1 : 1) response to Hg(II) in aqueous solution.