Abstract

The fast and non-invasive detection of odors and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by gas sensors and electronic noses is a growing field of interest, mostly due to a large scope of potential applications. Additional drivers for the expansion of the field include the development of alternative and sustainable sensing materials. The discovery that isolated cross-linked polymeric structures of suberin spontaneously self-assemble as a film inspired us to develop new sensing composite materials consisting of suberin and a liquid crystal (LC). Due to their stimuli-responsive and optically active nature, liquid crystals are interesting probes in gas sensing. Herein, we report the isolation and the chemical characterization of two suberin types (from cork and from potato peels) resorting to analyses of gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS), solution nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). The collected data highlighted their compositional and structural differences. Cork suberin showed a higher proportion of longer aliphatic constituents and is more esterified than potato suberin. Accordingly, when casted it formed films with larger surface irregularities and a higher C/O ratio. When either type of suberin was combined with the liquid crystal 5CB, the ensuing hybrid materials showed distinctive morphological and sensing properties towards a set of 12 VOCs (comprising heptane, hexane, chloroform, toluene, dichlormethane, diethylether, ethyl acetate, acetonitrile, acetone, ethanol, methanol, and acetic acid). The optical responses generated by the materials are reversible and reproducible, showing stability for 3 weeks. The individual VOC-sensing responses of the two hybrid materials are discussed taking as basis the chemistry of each suberin type. A support vector machines (SVM) algorithm based on the features of the optical responses was implemented to assess the VOC identification ability of the materials, revealing that the two distinct suberin-based sensors complement each other, since they selectively identify distinct VOCs or VOC groups. It is expected that such new environmentally-friendly gas sensing materials derived from natural diversity can be combined in arrays to enlarge selectivity and sensing capacity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100083
JournalMaterials Today Bio
Volume8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020

Keywords

  • Cork suberin
  • Ionic liquids
  • Liquid crystals
  • Potato suberin
  • VOC sensors

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