Tuning the sensitivity of fluoroionophore-based K+ sensors via variation of polymer matrix: A comparative study

Lukas Tribuser, Sergey M. Borisov*, Ingo Klimant

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Optical sensors were prepared via immobilization of K+ fluoroionophore (K+FI) into different hydrophilic polymers and their properties (luminescence brightness, stability, sensitivity, cross talk to sodium, dynamic range, response time) were investigated. Depending on the character of the used polymeric matrix, the fluorescence quantum yields for the K+-fluoroionophore complex (500 mM K+) span from 44 % in commercial polyurethane hydrogel D1 to 18 % in poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate). Dynamic intensity measurements show reversibility of the sensors and response times (t90) below 1 min for most of the materials. Blending of poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) with polyurethane hydrogels is necessary to ensure compatibility of the indicator and the matrix. Comparison of dissociation constants (Kd) reveals moderate sensitivity enhancement in more hydrophilic polyurethane hydrogel D1 (Kd 51.8 mM) and much stronger enhancement in poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) (Kd 15.4 mM) compared to previously used hydrogel D4 (Kd 60.4 mM). Drastic increase in the sensitivity upon addition of negatively-charged aliphatic sulfonates is observed (Kd < 3 mM). In case of the latter, the enhancement in the sensitivity is significantly lower in presence of sodium ions. Modification of a commercially available polyurethane hydrogel with sulfonate groups enables preparation of stable sensors with improved binding ability (Kd 11.1 mM). This study demonstrates the fundamental role of the polymer matrix in characteristics of the solid-state optical potassium sensors and provides the guidelines for general design of ion sensors with improved characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number127940
JournalSensors and Actuators B: Chemical
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • Fluorescence
  • Fluoroionophore
  • Hydrogel
  • Optical sensor
  • Potassium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Instrumentation
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Materials Chemistry


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