The versatility of the sol-gel process with regard to the design of optimized films for fluorescence-based sensing is treated in detail. Sol-gel films are typically used to provide a microporous support matrix in which analyte-sensitive fluorophores are entrapped and into which smaller analyte species may diffuse and interact. The versatility of the process facilitates tailoring of the physicochemical film properties to optimize sensor performance. General principles of sensor optimization are presented. These include issues such as immobilization properties, refractive index control, and sensitivity enhancement. The particular advantages conferred by the use of ormosils are emphasized. In addition, the contribution made by tailored sol-gel films to recent advances in specific fluorescence-based sensor applications is emphasized. This work focuses mainly on results produced in the laboratory of the authors over the past decade.
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