The Optoelectronic Nose: Colorimetric and Fluorometric Sensor Arrays

Zheng Li, Jon R. Askim, Kenneth S. Suslick

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


A comprehensive review on the development and state of the art of colorimetric and fluorometric sensor arrays is presented. Chemical sensing aims to detect subtle changes in the chemical environment by transforming relevant chemical or physical properties of molecular or ionic species (i.e., analytes) into an analytically useful output. Optical arrays based on chemoresponsive colorants (dyes and nanoporous pigments) probe the chemical reactivity of analytes, rather than their physical properties (e.g., mass). The chemical specificity of the olfactory system does not come from specific receptors for specific analytes (e.g., the traditional lock-and-key model of substrate-enzyme interactions), but rather olfaction makes use of pattern recognition of the combined response of several hundred olfactory receptors. In a similar fashion, arrays of chemoresponsive colorants provide high-dimensional data from the color or fluorescence changes of the dyes in these arrays as they are exposed to analytes. This provides chemical sensing with high sensitivity (often down to parts per billion levels), impressive discrimination among very similar analytes, and exquisite fingerprinting of extremely similar mixtures over a wide range of analyte types, in both the gas and liquid phases. Design of both sensor arrays and instrumentation for their analysis are discussed. In addition, the various chemometric and statistical analyses of high-dimensional data (including hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA), principal component analysis (PCA), linear discriminant analysis (LDA), support vector machines (SVMs), and artificial neural networks (ANNs)) are presented and critiqued in reference to their use in chemical sensing. A variety of applications are also discussed, including personal dosimetry of toxic industrial chemical, detection of explosives or accelerants, quality control of foods and beverages, biosensing intracellularly, identification of bacteria and fungi, and detection of cancer and disease biomarkers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-292
Number of pages62
JournalChemical reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 9 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'The Optoelectronic Nose: Colorimetric and Fluorometric Sensor Arrays'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this