Multimodal Fluorescent Polymer Sensor for Highly Sensitive Detection of Nitroaromatics.


Department of Physics, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, Roorkee, Uttarakhand, 247667, India. [Email]


Detection of nitroaromatic explosives with high sensitivity and selectivity is extremely important for civilian and military safety. Here, we report the synthesis and multimodal sensing applications of an emissive alanine based dansyl tagged copolymer P(MMA-co-Dansyl-Ala-HEMA) (DCP), synthesized by RAFT copolymerization. The fluorescent co-polymer exhibited high sensitivity and selectivity towards conventional nitroaromatic explosives such as DNT, TNT and TNP in solution at lower range of µM level and also with saturated vapor of NACs. The quantum yield of the co-polymer was measured to be very high (Φf = 77%) which make it an ideal candidate for sensing in solution as well as in vapor phase. The fluorescence signal from DCP copolymer gets significantly quenched upon addition of aliquots of DNT, TNT, and TNP. The Stern-Volmer constant was calculated to be very high. The quenching mechanism was further established by fluorescence up-conversion, time-resolved fluorescence and steady state absorption spectroscopy. The energetics of sensing process was calculated by Density Functional Theory (DFT) studies. We also fabricate a thin film polymer sensor which was able to detect nitroaromatic vapors with high selectivity. This opens up the possibility of building a low-cost and light-weight nitroaromatic explosives sensor for field use.