Noninvasive monitoring of glucose in tears is highly desirable in tight glucose control. The polymerized crystalline colloidal array (PCCA) that can be incorporated into contact lens represents one of the most promising materials for noninvasive monitoring of glucose in tears. However, low sensitivity and slow time response of the PCCA reported in previous arts has limited its clinical utility. This paper presents a new PCCA, denoted as NIR-PCCA, comprising a CCA of glucose-responsive sub-micrometered poly(styrene-co-acrylamide-co-3-acrylamidophenylboronic acid) microgels embedded within a slightly positive charged hydrogel matrix of poly(acrylamide-co-2-(dimethylamino)ethyl acrylate). This newly designed NIR-PCCA can reflect near-infrared (NIR) light, whose intensity (at 1722 nm) would decrease evidently with increasing glucose concentration over the physiologically relevant range in tears. The lowest glucose concentration reliably detectable was as low as ca. 6.1 μg/dL. The characteristic response time τ(sensing) was 22.1±0.2s when adding glucose to 7.5 mg/dL, and the higher the glucose concentration is, the faster the time response. Such a rationally designed NIR-PCCA is well suited for ratiometric NIR sensing of tear glucose under physiological conditions, thereby likely to bring this promising glucose-sensing material to the forefront of analytical devices for diabetes.
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