IEEE Sensors Journal
Attenuated total internal reflectance Fourier transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy was used for the investigation of sorption of aqueous solutions of analytes into polymer coatings. A series of simple model polymers, such as poly(dimethylsiloxane), poly(epichlorhydrin), and poly(isobutylene), and films and analytes, such as aqueous solutions of ethylbenzene, xylenes, toluene, and nitrobenzene, were used to evaluate the use of ATR-FTIR spectroscopy as a screening tool for sensor development. The ratios of integrated infrared absorption bands provided a simple and efficient method for predicting trends in partition coefficients. Responses of polymer-coated guided shear horizontal surface acoustic wave (SH-SAW) sensor platforms to the series of analytes, using polymer coatings with similar viscoelastic properties, were consistent with ATR-FTIR predictions. Guided SH-SAW sensor responses were linear in all cases with respect to analyte concentration in the tested range. Comparison of ATR-FTIR data with guided SH-SAW sensor data identifies cases where mass loading is not the dominant contribution to the response of the acoustic wave sensor. ATR-FTIR spectra of nitrobenzene, coupled with computational chemistry, provided additional insight into analyte/polymer interactions.