A new optical sensing platform based on a combination of planar waveguiding and sol-gel processing technologies is described. The sensing element consists of two, submicrometer thick glass layers supported on an optically thick glass substrate; both layers were fabricated using a sol-gel coating method. The lower layer is a densified glass that functions as a planar integrated optical waveguide (IOW). The upper layer is an undensified glass of lower index doped with an optical indicator that is immobilized, yet remains sterically accessible to analytes that diffuse into the pore network. Formation of a complex between the analyte and indicator is detected via attenuated total reflection (ATR) of light guided in the IOW. Feasibility was evaluated by constructing IOW-ATR sensors for Pb2+ and pH, based on immobilized xylenol orange and bromocresol purple, respectively. The response of both sensors was sensitive and rapid, features that are difficult to achieve simultaneously in monolithic sol-gel glass sensors. In the IOW-ATR geometry, these features are realized simultaneously because the primary axes of light propagation and analyte diffusion are orthogonal. The overall approach is technically simple, inexpensive, and applicable to a wide variety of indicator chemistries.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry