Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 402, Issue 5, pp 1739–1748 | Cite as

Surface-attached sensors for cation and anion recognition

  • Nicholas H. Evans
  • Habibur Rahman
  • Jason J. Davis
  • Paul D. Beer


The development of surface-attached sensors for cationic and anionic guests is of intense current research interest. In addition to the environmental flexibility, robustness and reusability of such devices, surface-confined sensors typically exhibit an amplified response to target analytes owing to preorganization of the receptor. Whereas redox-active cations may be sensed by studying the cyclic voltammetry of host–guest systems containing ion-selective receptors attached to an appropriate electrode, redox-inactive ionic species require the use of electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, with appropriately functionalized electrodes and redox probes. Alternatively, receptors may be constructed that incorporate an electrochemical or optical reporter group within their structure to provide a macroscopic response to the presence of an ionic guest. This critical review seeks to present an up-to-date, although necessarily selective, account of the progress in the field, and provides insights into possible future developments, including the utilization of receptor–nanoparticle conjugates and mechanically interlocked receptors.


Anions Cations Electrochemistry Fluorescence Ion recognition Self-assembled monolayers 



electrochemical impedance spectroscopy






charge-transfer resistance


self-assembled monolayers





We gratefully acknowledge the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for funding of studentships for N.H.E. and H.R.

Supplementary material

216_2011_5403_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (540 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 540 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory, Department of ChemistryUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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