A new type of oxygen sensor is described that is based on electronic energy transfer from a donor (whose fluorescence is efficiently quenched by molecular oxygen) to an acceptor (which is less affected by oxygen). We use pyrene as the donor and perylene as the acceptor. The fluorescence emission band of the donor shows good overlap with the absorption band of the acceptor. When excited at 320 nm, the two-fluorophore system shows strong fluorescence at 476 nm, where pyrene itself is nonfluorescent. Although perylene is not efficiently quenched by oxygen, the system strongly responds to oxygen because fluorescence is quenched with an efficiency that by far exceeds the quenching efficiency for pyrene or pyrelene alone. The principle has been applied in order to devise a fiberoptic oxygen sensor by incorporating the two dyes in a polymer matrix that has been attached to the end of an optical fiber. Oxygen can be detected in the 0-150 kPa range with ±0.3 kPa precision. The detection limit is 60 Pa oxygen.
Ashutosh Sharma and Otto S. Wolfbeis, "Fiberoptic Oxygen Sensor Based on Fluorescence Quenching and Energy Transfer," Appl. Spectrosc. 42, 1009-1011 (1988)