Fingerprinting antibiotics with PAE-based fluorescent sensor arrays
We outline an evolution process for tongue elements composed of poly(p-aryleneethynylene)s (PAE) and detergents, resulting in a chemical tongue (24 elements) that discerns antibiotics. Cross-breeding of this new tongue with tongue elements that consist of simple poly(p-phenyleneethynylene)s (PPE) at different pH-values leads to an enlarged sensor array, composed of 30 elements. This tongue was pruned, employing principal component analysis. We found that a filial tongue featuring three elements from each original array (i.e. a six element tongue) is superior to either of the prior tongues and the composite tongue in the discrimination of structurally different antibiotics. Such a selection process should be general and give an idea how to successfully generate powerful low-selectivity sensor elements and configure them into discriminative chemical tongues.