Low Temperature and UV Curable Sol-Gel Coatings for Long Lasting Optical Fiber Biosensors
The use of optical fibers as sensing element is increasing in clinical, pharmaceutical and industrial applications.
Excellent light delivery, long interaction length, low cost and ability not only to excite the target molecules but also to capture the emitted light from the targets are the hallmarks of optical fiber as biosensors. In biosensors based on fiber optics the interaction with the analyte can occur within an element of the optical fiber. One of the techniques for this kind of biosensors is to remove the fiber optic cladding and substitute it for biological coatings that will interact with the parameter to sensorize. The deposition of these layers can be made by sol-gel technology. The sol-gel technology is being increasingly used mainly due to the high versatility to tailor their optical features. Incorporation of suitable chemical and biochemical sensing agents have allowed determining pH, gases, and biochemical species, among others. Nonetheless, the relatively high processing temperatures and short lifetime values mean severe drawbacks for a successful exploitation of sol-gel based coated optical fibres. With regard to the latter, herein we present the design, preparation and characterization of novel sol-gel coated optical fibres. Low temperature and UV curable coating formulations were optimized to achieve a good adhesion and optical performance. The UV photopolymerizable formulation was comprised by glycidoxypropyltrimethoxysilane (GLYMO), Tetraethylorthosilicate (TEOS) and an initiator. While the thermoset coating was prepared by using 3-aminopropyltrimethoxysilane, GLYMO, and TEOS as main reagents. Both curable sol-gel coated fibres were analysed by FTIR, SEM and optical characterization. Furthermore, in the present work a new technique for silica cladding removal has been developed by ultra-short pulses laser processing, getting good dimensional accuracy and surface integrity.