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Anal Chem. 2003 Apr 1;75(7):1676-83.

Photonic crystal aqueous metal cation sensing materials.

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Department of Chemistry, Chevron Science Center, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260, USA.


We developed a polymerized crystalline colloidal array photonic material that senses metal cations in water at low concentrations (PCCACS). Metal cations such as Cu2+, Co2+, Ni2+, and Zn2+ bind to 8-hydroxyquinoline groups covalently attached to the PCCACS. At low metal concentrations (<microM), the cations form bisliganded complexes with two 8-hydroxyquinolines that cross-link the hydrogel and cause it to shrink, which blue shifts the photonic crystal diffraction. These bisliganded cross-links break at higher cation concentrations due to the formation of monoliganded cation complexes. This red shifts the diffraction. We have extended hydrogel volume phase transition theory in order to quantitatively model the diffraction dependence upon metal concentration. These materials can be used as a dosimeter to sense extremely low metal cation concentrations or as a sensor material for concentrations greater than 1 microM. Metal cation concentrations can be determined visually from the color of the diffracted light or can be determined by reflectance measurements using a spectrophotometer. This sensing material could be used in the field to visually determine metal cation concentrations in drinking water. A color chart would be used to relate the diffracted color to the metal cation concentration.

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