Ionic liquid/poly(ionic liquid) membranes as non-flowing, conductive materials for electrochemical gas sensing
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Ionic liquids (ILs) are highly promising, tuneable materials that have the potential to replace volatile electrolytes in amperometric gas sensors in a ‘membrane-free’ sensor design. However, the drawback of removing the membrane is that the liquid ILs can readily leak or flow from the sensor device when moved/agitated in different orientations. A strategy to overcome the flowing nature of ILs is to mix them with polymers to stabilise them on the surface in the form of membranes. In this research, the room temperature ionic liquid, 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide ([C2mim][NTf2]), has been mixed with the poly(ionic liquid) (poly(IL), poly(diallyldimethylammonium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide), poly[DADMA][NTf2]) to form stable membranes on miniaturised, planar electrode devices. Different mixing ratios of the IL/poly(IL) have been explored to find the optimum membrane that gives both high robustness (non-flowing material) and adequate conductivity for measuring redox currents, with the IL/poly(IL) 60/40 wt% proving to give the best responses. After assessing the blank potential windows on both platinum and gold electrodes, followed by the kinetics of the cobaltocenium/cobaltocene redox couple, the voltammetry of oxygen, sulfur dioxide and ammonia gases have been studied. Not only were the membranes highly robust and non-flowing, but the analytical responses towards the gases were excellent and highly reproducible. The presence of the poly(IL) negatively affected the sensitivity, however the electron transfer kinetics and the limit of detection were actually improved for O2 and SO2, combined with the poly(IL) experiencing less reference potential shifting. These promising results show that membranes containing conductive poly(IL)s mixed with ionic liquids could be used as new ‘designer’ gas sensor materials in robust membrane free amperometric gas sensor devices.
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