Tunable Gas Sensing Gels by Cooperative Assembly

Hussain, A, Semeano ATS, Palma SICJ, Pina AS, Almeida J, Medrado BF, Pádua ACCS, Carvalho AL, Dionísio M, Li RWC, Gamboa H, Ulijn RV, Gruber J, Roque ACA.  2017.  Tunable Gas Sensing Gels by Cooperative Assembly. Advanced Functional Materials. 1700803:1–9.


The cooperative assembly of biopolymers and small molecules can yield functional materials with precisely tunable properties. Here, the fabrication, characterization, and use of multicomponent hybrid gels as selective gas sensors are reported. The gels are composed of liquid crystal droplets self-assembled in the presence of ionic liquids, which further coassemble with biopolymers to form stable matrices. Each individual component can be varied and acts cooperatively to tune gels' structure and function. The unique molecular environment in hybrid gels is explored for supramolecular recognition of volatile compounds. Gels with distinct compositions are used as optical and electrical gas sensors, yielding a combinatorial response conceptually mimicking olfactory biological systems, and tested to distinguish volatile organic compounds and to quantify ethanol in automotive fuel. The gel response is rapid, reversible, and reproducible. These robust, versatile, modular, pliant electro-optical soft materials possess new possibilities in sensing triggered by chemical and physical stimuli.



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