Harnessing selectivity in chemical sensing via supramolecular interactions: from functionalization of nanomaterials to device applications
Chemical sensing is a strategic field of science and technology ultimately aiming at improving the quality of our lives and the sustainability of our Planet. Sensors bear a direct societal impact on well-being, which includes the quality and composition of the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. Pristine low-dimensional materials are widely exploited as highly sensitive elements in chemical sensors, although they suffer from lack of intrinsic selectivity towards specific analytes. Here, we showcase the most recent strategies on the use of (supra)molecular interactions to harness the selectivity of suitably functionalized 0D, 1D, and 2D low-dimensional materials for chemical sensing. We discuss how the design and selection of receptors via machine learning and artificial intelligence hold a disruptive potential in chemical sensing, where selectivity is achieved by the design and high-throughput screening of large libraries of molecules exhibiting a set of affinity parameters that dictates the analyte specificity. We also discuss the importance of achieving selectivity along with other relevant characteristics in chemical sensing, such as high sensitivity, response speed, and reversibility, as milestones for true practical applications. Finally, for each distinct class of low-dimensional material, we present the most suitable functionalization strategies for their incorporation into efficient transducers for chemical sensing.