A composite from a broad bandgap polymer, poly(phenylene ethylene) (PPE), and nano-sized TiO2 particles was found to be able to sense 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT) for TNT sensor. Fluorescence quenching induced by charge transfer from PPE to nano-sized TiO2 was observed in toluene solution. At high TiO2 composition, a strong exciplex band occurred at 550 nm. Under prolonged light irradiation at 400 nm, unusual fluorescence gains took place at 460 nm, companied with a very small change in the UV–vis absorbance. After 30 min light irradiation, the fluorescence at 460 nm reached a maximum, but the peak at 550 nm disappeared. This composite showed amplified sensor response to TNT compared to the pristine PPE film, which can be potentially used as sensing material for detecting TNT based explosives.
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