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Remote Detection of HCN, HF, and Nerve Agent Vapors Based on Self-Referencing, Dye-Impregnated Porous Silicon Photonic Crystals

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journal contribution
posted on 02.12.2020, 16:37 by Yi-Sheng Lu, Sanahan Vijayakumar, Arnaud Chaix, Brian R. Pimentel, Kyle C. Bentz, Sheng Li, Adriano Chan, Charlotte Wahl, James S. Ha, Deborah E. Hunka, Gerry R. Boss, Seth M. Cohen, Michael J. Sailor
A one-dimensional photonic crystal is prepared from porous silicon (pSi) and impregnated with a chemically specific colorimetric indicator dye to provide a self-referenced vapor sensor for the selective detection of hydrogen fluoride (HF), hydrogen cyanide (HCN), and the chemical nerve agent diisopropyl fluorophosphate (DFP). The photonic crystal is prepared with two stop bands: one that coincides with the optical absorbance of the relevant activated indicator dye and the other in a spectrally “clear” region, to provide a reference. The inner pore walls of the pSi sample are then modified with octadecylsilane to provide a hydrophobic interior, and the indicator dye of interest is then loaded into the mesoporous matrix. Remote analyte detection is achieved by measurement of the intensity ratio of the two stop bands in the white light reflectance spectrum, which provides a means to reliably detect colorimetric changes in the indicator dye. Indicator dyes were chosen for their specificity for the relevant agents: rhodamine-imidazole (RDI) for HF and DFP, and monocyanocobinamide (MCbi) for HCN. The ratiometric readout allows detection of HF and HCN at concentrations (14 and 5 ppm, respectively) that are below their respective IDLH (immediately dangerous to life and health) concentrations (30 ppm for HF; 50 ppm for HCN); detection of DFP at a concentration of 114 ppb is also demonstrated. The approach is insensitive to potential interferents such as ammonia, hydrogen chloride, octane, and the 43-component mixture of VOCs known as EPA TO-14A, and to variations in relative humidity (20–80% RH). Detection of HF and HCN spiked into the complex mixture EPA TO-14A is demonstrated. The approach provides a general means to construct robust remote detection systems for chemical agents.