Scientific reports

The selective flow of volatile organic compounds in conductive polymer-coated microchannels.

PMID 28205561


Many gaseous markers of critical biological, physicochemical, or industrial occurrences are masked by the cross-sensitivity of the sensors to the other active components present at higher concentrations. Here, we report the strongly selective diffusion and drift of contaminant molecules in air-filled conductive polymer-coated microfluidic channels for the first time. Monitoring the passage of different target molecules through microchannels coated with Poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene):poly(styrenesulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS) revealed that contaminants such as hexane, benzene, and CO pass through the channel unaffected by the coating while methanol, ethanol, and partly acetone are blocked. The observations are explained with reference to the selective interactions between the conductive polymer surface and target gas molecules amplified by the large wall/volume ratio in microchannels. The accumulated quantitative data point at the hydrogen bonding as the mechanism of wall adsorption; dipole-dipole interactions are relatively insignificant. The presented model facilitates a better understanding of how the conductive polymer-based chemical sensors operate.