Fluorescent fiber optic sensors find their popularity in online and in-situ detection of metal ions. These fiber sensors allow for predicting and preventing the environmental problems caused by the ions. To be more precise, this type of sensor is different from refractometer-based ones. The fluorescent fiber optic sensors have a simple structure and their properties play a crucial role in sensing performance.
It should be noted that metal ions cause heavy metal pollution resulting in significant harm to the environment and people. Nowadays metal pollution is regarded as a serious worldwide problem. Therefore, the problem requires quick and effective sensing systems to determine the level of metal ions pollution. The use of fiber optic sensors is a perfect solution.
Some researchers propose the use of fluorescent materials in the new fiber sensors. They claim that fluorescent optical fibers enable them to transmit valuable data for real-time sensing process. Additionally, these fiber optic sensors offer such advantages as long-life span and immunity to electromagnetic interference. The is the main reason why fluorescence sensing systems are ideal in field and emergency analysis.
The design of the fluorescent fiber sensors includes “an excitation light source, an optical fiber with the sensor probe, a spectrometer, and a computer.” The operating principle is based on the excitation light that expands along the fiber and the fiber optic sensor to obtain a fluorescent response back. Moreover, the researchers confirm that some biomaterials can collect heavy metal ions.
Thus, it is possible to apply their derivatives as fluorescent sensing systems. Recently researchers have created several fiber sensors based on fluorescent materials to detect metal ions that include the following:
- Protein labeled sensing systems
It is not a novel type of fiber optic sensor, it has appeared almost 20 years ago. Protein labeled sensors do not depend on the fluorescent membrane and only transmit the light.
- Nucleic acid-based fiber sensors
These sensors provide a high level of sensitivity and specificity. Also, nucleic acid-based sensing systems are very promising for on-site environmental monitoring.
- Luminescent nanomaterials-based fiber optic sensors
Even though they have more benefits than other types, these sensors demonstrate high selectivity at a minority of metal ions.
Finally, the mentioned above fiber optic solutions are very potential for the detection of metal ions, for example, in environmental water samples. Nevertheless, the sensing system is not ideal and has some problems to be overcome.
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