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Fabrication Of A Porous Fiber Cladding Material Using Microsphere Templating For Improved Response Time With Fiber Optic Sensor Arrays

Paul E. Henning, M. Veronica Rigo, Peter Geissinger

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A highly porous optical-fiber cladding was developed for evanescent-wave fiber sensors, which contains sensor molecules, maintains guiding conditions in the optical fiber, and is suitable for sensing in aqueous environments. To make the cladding material (a poly(ethylene) glycol diacrylate (PEGDA) polymer) highly porous, a microsphere templating strategy was employed. The resulting pore network increases transport of the target analyte to the sensor molecules located in the cladding, which improves the sensor response time. This was demonstrated using fluorescein-based pH sensor molecules, which were covalently attached to the cladding material. Scanning electron microscopy was used to examine the structure of the templated polymer and the large network of interconnected pores. Fluorescence measurements showed a tenfold improvement in the response time for the templated polymer and a reliable pH response over a pH range of five to nine with an estimated accuracy of 0.08 pH units.