Development and Characterization of Polysiloxane Polymer Films for Use in Optical Sensor Technology
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A novel sensor using a polymer coated long-period grating (LPG) has been proposed for monitoring levels of organic contaminants in air or water systems. The sensor operates by detecting refractive index changes in the polymer coating as analytes partition in. Polymer coatings used must be able to reversibly and reproducibly absorb contaminants of interest from the sample and have a refractive index just below that of the fiber cladding. The synthesis and characterization of several chemically selective polysiloxanes is described. Pre-polymer materials are made through the catalyzed condensation of silane monomers. Different functional groups are incorporated either through polymerizing functionalized monomers, or by post-functionalizing the polymer through a platinum-catalyzed hydrosilylation reaction. The pre-polymer materials are crosslinked into elastomeric films using titanium(IV) tetraisopropoxide. The polymer refractive index is controlled through altering the ratios of functional groups within the polymer or changing the loading levels of titanium. Four polymers were made, having different functional groups and optimized refractive indices for use on the proposed sensor. The partition coefficients for the polymers with a variety of solvents are calculated and compared. Each polymer was found to have a slightly different chemical selectivity pattern, demonstrating that a set of polymers could be used to generate a sensor array. Partition coefficient data was calculated from the gas phase by considering the change in polymer refractive index as the solvents partitioned into the polymer. The Lorentz-Lorenz equation was used to model the relationship between the change in refractive index and the solvent concentration within the polymer. Finally, polymers were applied to LPGs and used to successfully detect various solvents from the gas phase. This was accomplished by monitoring the entire LPG spectrum, and also by considering loss at a single wavelength using fiber-loop ring-down spectroscopy.