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Biosens Bioelectron. 2011 Oct 15;28(1):349-54. doi: 10.1016/j.bios.2011.07.043. Epub 2011 Jul 23.

Color changing block copolymer films for chemical sensing of simple sugars.

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Fischell Department of Bioengineering Room 2330 Jeong H. Kim Engineering Building, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.


We investigated the use of functionalized photonic block copolymer films for the detection of glucose. Polystyrene-b-poly(2-vinyl pyridine) (PS-b-P2VP) block copolymers were chemically functionalized with 2-(bromomethyl)phenylboronic acid and cast into films that reflect a visible color when exposed to aqueous media. The 2-(bromomethyl)phenylboronic acid functionality can reversibly bind to glucose. When exposed to high concentrations of glucose the polymer responded with a red shift in color. Low concentration exposure of glucose caused the polymer films to blue shift in color. The BCP films also exhibited a selective response to fructose, mannose or galactose, giving a different response depending on which sugar is present. The color of the polymer was tuned to blue, green, yellow or orange by varying the film's crosslink density. The color change can be visually observed without the use of equipment such as a spectrometer.

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