Document Type


Publication Date



American Chemical Society

Source Publication

ACS Sensors

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Original Item ID

DOI: 10.1021/acssensors.2c01024


The isomer-specific detection and quantitation of m-, p-, and o-xylene and ethylbenzene, dissolved singly and as mixtures in aqueous solutions at concentrations from 100 to 1200 ppb by volume, is reported for a specifically designed polymer-plasticizer coating on a shear-horizontal surface acoustic wave (SH-SAW) device. The polystyrene-ditridecyl phthalate-blend coating was designed utilizing Hansen solubility parameters and considering the dipole moment and polarizability of the analytical targets and coating components to optimize the affinity of the sensor coating for the four chemical isomers. The two key coating sorption properties, sensitivity and response time constant, are determined by the (slightly different) dipole moments and polarizabilities of the four target analytes: as analyte dipole moment decreases, coating sensitivity increases; as analyte polarizability decreases, coating response time lengthens. Using the measured sensitivities and time constants for the targets, sensor signals were processed with exponentially weighted recursive-least-squares estimation (EW-RLSE) to identify (with near 100% accuracy) and quantify (with ± 5–7% accuracy) the isomers. This impressive performance was achieved by combining the specifically tailored, high-sensitivity coating and an SH-SAW platform (yielding a detection limit of 5 ppb for the analytes) and using the EW-RLS estimator, which estimates unknown parameters accurately even in the presence of measurement noise and for analytes with only minor differences in response. Identification of the xylene isomers is important for applications including environmental monitoring and chemical manufacturing.


Accepted version. ACS Sensors, Vol. 7, No. 8 (July 2022): 2379-2386. DOI. © 2022 American Chemical Society. Used with permission.

Available for download on Tuesday, August 01, 2023