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Talanta. 2011 Sep 15;85(3):1369-75. doi: 10.1016/j.talanta.2011.06.020. Epub 2011 Jun 17.

Discourse on the utilization of polyaniline coatings for surface plasmon resonance sensing of ammonia vapor.

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  • 1University of Delaware, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Newark, DE 19716, United States.


Surface plasmon resonance spectroscopy is sensitive to near-surface (<300 nm) chemical and physical events that result in refractive index changes. The non-specific nature of the stimulus implies that chemical selectivity in SPR sensing configurations entirely relies upon the chemical recognition scheme employed. Biosensing applications commonly use surface layers composed of antibodies or enzymes for biomolecular recognition. Monitoring of volatile compounds with SPR spectroscopy, however, has not been widely discussed due to the difficulty in selectively responding to small molecules (<100 Da) in addition to the limited refractive index changes resulting from the interaction between the plasmon wave and volatile compounds. Different strategies explored thus far for sensing of small molecules have relied on optical and electrical changes of the recognition layer upon exposure to the analyte, yielding an indirect measurement. Examples of coatings used for gas-phase sensing with SPR include conducting metal oxides, polymers and organometallic dyes. Electrically conducting polymers, like polyaniline and polypyrrole, display dramatic conductivity changes in the presence of certain compounds. This property has resulted in their routine incorporation into different sensing schemes. However, application of electrically conducting polymers to SPR gas-phase sensing has been limited to a few examples, despite encouraging results. The emeraldine salt form of polyaniline (PAni) demonstrates a decreased electrical conductivity correlated to NH(3) concentration. In this contribution, PAni doped with camphorsulfonic acid (PAni-CSA) was applied to gas-phase sensing of NH(3) by way of SPR spectroscopy. Spectroscopic ellipsometry was used to determine the optical constants (n and k) for emeraldine salt and emeraldine base forms of PAni, confirming the wavelength-dependent response observed via SPR. The analytical performance of the coatings show that a limit of detection of 32 ppm NH(3) based on precision of the mass-flow controllers used and an estimated method limit of detection of ∼0.2 ppm based on three standard deviations of the blank. This is directly comparable to other, more established sensing architectures.

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