Exploiting the versatility of taste sensors based on impedance spectroscopy
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The versatility of sensor arrays made from nanostructured Langmuir-Blodgett (LB) and layer-by-layer (LBL) films is demonstrated in two ways. First, different combinations of sensing units are employed to distinguish the basic tastes, viz. sweet, sour, bitter, and salty tastes, produced, respectively, by small concentrations (down to 0.01 g/mol) of sucrose, HCl, quinine, and NaCl solutions. The sensing units are comprised of LB and/or LBL films from semiconducting polymers, a ruthenium complex, and sulfonated lignin. Then, sensor arrays were used to identify wines from different sources, with the high distinguishing ability being demonstrated in principal component analysis (PCA) plots. Particularly important was the fact that the sensing ability does not depend on specific interactions between analytes and the film materials, but a judicious choice of materials is, nevertheless, required for the materials to respond differently to a given sample. It is also shown that the interaction with the analyte may affect the morphology of the nanostructured films, as indicated with scanning electron microscopy. For instance, in wine analysis these changes are not irreversible and the original film morphology is retrieved if the sensing unit is washed with copious amounts of water, thus allowing the sensor unit to be reused.