Analysis of Liquid-Phase Chemical Detection Using Guided Shear Horizontal-Surface Acoustic Wave Sensors

Zhonghui Li
Yolanda Jones
Jeanne Hossenlopp, Marquette University
Richard Cernosek, Sandia National Laboratories
Fabien Josse, Marquette University

Analytical Chemistry, Vol. 77, No. 14 (July 2005): 4595-4603. DOI: 10.1021/ac0504621.


Direct chemical sensing in liquid environments using polymer-guided shear horizontal surface acoustic wave sensor platforms on 36° rotated Y-cut LiTaO3 is investigated. Design considerations for optimizing these devices for liquid-phase detection are systematically explored. Two different sensor geometries are experimentally and theoretically analyzed. Dual delay line devices are used with a reference line coated with poly (methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) and a sensing line coated with a chemically sensitive polymer, which acts as both a guiding layer and a sensing layer or with a PMMA waveguide and a chemically sensitive polymer. Results show the three-layer model provides higher sensitivity than the four-layer model. Contributions from mass loading and coating viscoelasticity changes to the sensor response are evaluated, taking into account the added mass, swelling, and plasticization. Chemically sensitive polymers are investigated in the detection of low concentrations (1-60 ppm) of toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes in water. A low-ppb level detection limit is estimated from the present experimental measurements. Sensor properties are investigated by varying the sensor geometries, coating thickness combinations, coating properties, and curing temperature for operation in liquid environments. Partition coefficients for polymer-aqueous analyte pairs are used to explain the observed trend in sensitivity for the polymers PMMA, poly(isobutylene), poly(epichlorohydrin), and poly(ethyl acrylate) used in this work.