Dynamic pH mapping in microfluidic devices by integrating adaptive coatings based on polyaniline with colorimetric imaging techniques†
In this paper we present a microfluidic device that has integrated pH optical sensing capabilities based on polyaniline. The optical properties of polyaniline coatings change in response to the pH of the solution that is flushed inside the microchannel offering the possibility of monitoring pH in continuous flow over a wide pH range throughout the entire channel length. This work also features an innovative detection system for spatial localisation of chemical pH gradients along microfluidic channels through the use of a low cost optical device. Specifically, the use of a microfluidic channel coated with polyaniline is shown to respond colorimetrically to pH and that effect is detected by the detection system, even when pH gradients are induced within the channel. This study explores the capability of detecting this gradient by means of imaging techniques and the mapping of the camera's response to its corresponding pH after a successful calibration process. The provision of an inherently responsive channel means that changes in the pH of a sample moving through the system can be detected dynamically using digital imaging along the entire channel length in real time, without the need to add reagents to the sample. This approach is generic and can be applied to other chemically responsive coatings immobilised on microchannels.