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Recent Advances In Ion Sensing With Conducting Polymers

Vithyasaahar Sethumadhavan, Sam Rudd, Eliza Switalska, Kamil Zuber, Peter Teasdale, Drew Evans

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AbstractIons are present throughout our environment—from biological systems to agriculture and beyond. Many important processes and mechanisms are driven by their presence and their relative concentration. In order to study, understand and/or control these, it is important to know what ions are present and in what concentration—highlighting the importance of ion sensing. Materials that show specific ion interaction with a commensurate change in measurable properties are the key components of ion sensing. One such type are conducting polymers. Conducting polymers are referred to as ‘active’ because they show observable changes in their electrical and optical (and other) properties in response to changing levels of doping with ions. For example, p-type conducting polymers such as poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) and polypyrrole, can transition from semi-conducting to metallic in response to increasing levels of anions inserted into their structure. Under certain circumstances, conducting polymers also interact with cations—showing their utility in sensing. Herein, recent advances in conducting polymers will be reviewed in the context of sensing ions. The main scope of this review is to critically evaluate our current understanding of ion interactions with conducting polymers and explore how these novel materials can contribute to improving our ion-sensing capabilities.