Polymer films consisting of a linear poly(dimethylsiloxane) end-functionalized with a luminescent Ir(III) complex (Ir-PDMS), blended with polystyrene (PS), function as optical oxygen sensors. The sensor response arises by quenching of the luminescence from the Ir(III) chromophore by oxygen that permeates into the polymer film. The morphology and luminescence oxygen sensor properties of blend films consisting of Ir-PDMSandPShave been characterized by fluorescence microscopy, atomic force microscopy, and scanning electron microscopy. The investigations demonstrate that microscale phase segregation occurs in the films. In blends that contain a relatively small amount of Ir-PDMS in PS (ca. 10 wt %), the Ir-PDMS exists as circular domains, with diameters ranging from 2 to 5 µm, surrounded by the majority PS phase. For larger weight fractions of Ir-PDMS in the blends, the film morphology becomes bicontinuous. A novel epifluorescence microscopy method is applied that allows the construction of Stern-Volmer quenching images that quantify the oxygen sensor response of the blend films with micrometer spatial resolution. These images provide a map of the oxygen permeability of the polymer blend films with a spatial resolution of ca. 1µm. The results of this investigation show that the micrometer-sized Ir-PMDS domains display a 2-3-fold higher oxygen sensor response compared to the surrounding PS matrix. This result is consistent with the fact that PDMS is considerably more gas permeable compared to PS. The relationship of the microscale morphology of the blends to their performance as macroscale optical oxygen sensors is discussed.
Kose, Muhammet E., Robert J. Crutchley, Maria C. DeRosa, Nisha Ananthakrishnan, John R. Reynolds, Kirk S. Schanze