An eight-sensor array coupling a chemoselective room-temperature ionic liquid (RTIL) with quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) transduction is presented in this work in order to demonstrate the power of this approach in differentiating closely related analytes in sensory devices. The underlying mechanism behind the specific sensory response was explored by (i) studying mass loading and viscoelasticity effects of the sensing layers, predominantly through variation in damping impedance, the combination of which determines the sensitivity; (ii) creation of a solvation model based on Abraham's solvation descriptors which reveals the fact that polarizability and lipophilicity are the main factors influencing the dissolution of gas analytes into the RTILs; and (iii) determination of enthalpy and entropy values for the studied interactions and comparison via a simulation model, which is also effective for pattern discrimination, in order to establish a foundation for the analytical scientist as well as inspiration for synthetic pathways and innovative research into next-generation sensory approaches. The reported sensors displayed an excellent sensitivity with detection limit of <0.2%, fast response and recovery, and a workable temperature range of 27-55 °C and even higher. Linear discriminant analysis (LDA) showed a discrimination accuracy of 86-92% for nitromethane and 1-ethyl-2-nitrobenzene, 71% for different mixtures of nitromethane, and 100% for these analytes when thermodynamic parameters were used as input data. We envisage applications to detecting other nitroaromatics and security-related gas targets, and high-temperature or real-time situations where manual access is restricted, opening up new horizons in chemical sensing.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry