Sorption of hydrophilic dyes on anodic aluminium oxide films and application to pH sensing

The sorption of selected hydrophilic pH-sensitive dyes (bromophenol blue, bromothymol blue, bromocresol purple, alizarin red, methyl orange, congo red, rhodamine 6G) on films of anodized aluminium oxide (AAO) was investigated in this study. Depth and pore structure of the AAO channels were adjusted by changing electrolysis time and current density during treatment of aluminium foil in oxalic acid, sulfosalycilic acid and sulfuric acid at concentration levels between 0.2 and 0.6 M. The dyes were immobilized on the AAO surface by direct saturation of the films in dye solutions. It was shown by scanning electron microscopy and X-ray spectral analysis that the dyes penetrated into the AAO channels by more than 1.5 [small mu ]m, even at static saturation conditions. The anionic dyes linked to the porous AAO surface exhibited differential shifts of the UV absorption bands in their acidic/basic forms. By combining several dyes, the films have an application range between pH = 0.5-9 in aqueous media. The dye-modified AAO film was a simple, portable, inexpensive and reusable pH sensor with very fast response time and clear colour transitions.