Development of responsive materials for diffraction-based chemical sensing
A new sensor technology based on optical diffraction of visible light shows promise for sensing metal ions and other species that employ chemically-responsive metal oxide and conducting polymer grating elements. These materials undergo reversible redox processes upon interaction with a chemical analyte that subsequently induces changes in the materials refractive index. The two key design parameters of this sensing technique involve preparation of micropatterned sensor elements and the evaluation of appropriate wavelengths for detection of diffracted light. Much of the ability to “tune” a desired sensing response is dictated by the understanding of how factors of size, dimension, crystallinity, morphology, porosity, and heterogeneity influence analyte/sensor interactions (i.e., adsorption, binding, and transport). The effect of composition, structure, and morphology of MoO₃, WO₃, Moₓ W₁₋ₓO₃, IrOₓ and polyaniline grating materials on chemical, electrochemical and optical properties of these systems will be examined by a range of spectroscopic and electrochemical techniques. Comprehensive evaluation and correlation of materials’ optical properties to diffraction-based detection will advance understanding of the capabilities and limitations for the diffraction-based sensing methodology. This information can then used to determine optimal sensing parameters to improve detection limits, enhance sensitivity and increase the dynamic range for detection of model analytes.