Electrochromic Molecular Imprinting Sensor for Visual and Smartphone-Based Detections

Denise Capoferri, Ruslan Álvarez-Diduk, Michele del Carlo, Dario Compagnone, Arben Merkoçi. Analytical Chemistry, 2018, 90, 9, 5850-5856

Electrochromic effect and molecularly imprinted technology have been used to develop a sensitive and selective electrochromic sensor. The polymeric matrices obtained using the imprinting technology are robust molecular recognition elements and have the potential to mimic natural recognition entities with very high selectivity. The electrochromic behavior of iridium oxide nanoparticles (IrOx NPs) as physicochemical transducer together with a molecularly imprinted polymer (MIP) as recognition layer resulted in a fast and efficient translation of the detection event. The sensor was fabricated using screen-printing technology with indium tin oxide as a transparent working electrode; IrOx NPs where electrodeposited onto the electrode followed by thermal polymerization of polypyrrole in the presence of the analyte (chlorpyrifos). Two different approaches were used to detect and quantify the pesticide: direct visual detection and smartphone imaging. Application of different oxidation potentials for 10 s resulted in color changes directly related to the concentration of the analyte. For smartphone imaging, at fixed potential, the concentration of the analyte was dependent on the color intensity of the electrode. The electrochromic sensor detects a highly toxic compound (chlorpyrifos) with a 100 fM and 1 mM dynamic range. So far, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first work where an electrochromic MIP sensor uses the electrochromic properties of IrOx to detect a certain analyte with high selectivity and sensitivity.

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