Toward high value sensing: monolayer-protected metal nanoparticles in multivariable gas and vapor sensors
For detection of gases and vapors in complex backgrounds, “classic” analytical instruments are an unavoidable alternative to existing sensors. Recently a new generation of sensors, known as multivariable sensors, emerged with a fundamentally different perspective for sensing to eliminate limitations of existing sensors. In multivariable sensors, a sensing material is designed to have diverse responses to different gases and vapors and is coupled to a multivariable transducer that provides independent outputs to recognize these diverse responses. Data analytics tools provide rejection of interferences and multi-analyte quantitation. This review critically analyses advances of multivariable sensors based on ligand-functionalized metal nanoparticles also known as monolayer-protected nanoparticles (MPNs). These MPN sensing materials distinctively stand out from other sensing materials for multivariable sensors due to their diversity of gas- and vapor-response mechanisms as provided by organic and biological ligands, applicability of these sensing materials for broad classes of gas-phase compounds such as condensable vapors and non-condensable gases, and for several principles of signal transduction in multivariable sensors that result in non-resonant and resonant electrical sensors as well as material- and structure-based photonic sensors. Such features should allow MPN multivariable sensors to be an attractive high value addition to existing analytical instrumentation.