The major trends driving optical chemical sensor technology are miniaturisation and multi-parameter functionality on a single platform (so-called multi-analyte sensing). A multi-analyte sensor chip device based on miniature waveguide structures, porous sensor materials and compact optoelectronic components has been developed. One of the major challenges in fluorescence-based optical sensor design is the efficient capture of emitted fluorescence from a fluorophore and the effective detection of the signal. In this work, the sensor platform has been fabricated using poly(methyl methacrylate), PMMA, as the waveguide material. These platforms employ a novel optical configuration along with rapid prototyping technology, which facilitates the production of an effective sensor platform.
Sensing films for oxygen, carbon dioxide and humidity have been developed. These films consist of a fluorescent indicator dye entrapped in a porous immobilisation matrix. The analyte diffuses through the porous matrix and reacts with the indicator dye, causing changes in the detected fluorescence. The reaction between the dye and the analyte is completely reversible with no degradation of the signal after detection of different concentrations of the analyte. A single LED excitation source is used for all three analytes, and the sensor platform is housed in a compact unit containing the excitation source, filters and detector.
The simultaneous detection of several analytes is a major requirement for fields such as food packaging, environmental quality control and biomedical diagnostics. The current sensor chip is designed for use in indoor air-quality monitoring.