Enhanced sensitivity to and classification of volatile carboxylic acids using arrays of linear poly(ethylenimine)-carbon black composite vapor detectors

Eric S. Tillman, Michael E. Koscho, Robert H. Grubbs, Nathan S. Lewis

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Vapor detectors formed from composites of conductors and insulating organic polymers have been tailored to produce increased sensitivity toward specific classes of analyte vapors. Upon exposure to acetic acid at 1% of its vapor pressure, detectors consisting of linear poly(ethylenimine) (1-PEI)-carbon black composites showed an ∼103 increase in signal/noise relative to the performance of typical insulating organic polymer-carbon black composite vapor detectors. Compositional diversity in an array of such vapor detectors was obtained by varying the degree of plasticization of the 1-PEI films. The resulting vapor detector array produced sensitive detection of, and robust discrimination between, various volatile organic acids and relatively little response from nonacidic organic vapors or from water vapor. Measurements of the mass uptake, thickness change, and electrical conductivity of such composites indicate that swelling of the polymer film, and thus its normalized resistance response, is beyond that expected by mass uptake alone upon exposure to acetic acid vapor. This additional thickness increase is attributed to charge-induced polymer swelling occurring from polymer-analyte interactions. Electrical percolation also plays a significant role in producing the large increase in normalized resistance response of these composites upon exposure to acetic acid vapor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1748-1753
Number of pages6
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2003


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry

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