A chemical sensor based on a coated long-period grating has been prepared and characterized. Designer coatings based on polydimethylsiloxane were prepared by the incorporation of diphenylsiloxane and titanium cross-linker in order to provide enhanced sensitivity for a variety of key environmental pollutants and optimal refractive index of the coating. Upon microextraction of the analyte into the polymer matrix, an increase in the refractive index of the coating resulted in a change in the attenuation spectrum of the long-period grating. The grating was interrogated using ring-down detection as a means to amplify the optical loss and to gain stability against misalignment and power fluctuations. Chemical differentiation of cyclohexane and xylene was achieved and a detection limit of 300 ppm of xylene vapour was realized.
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