The feasibility of liquid-phase evanescent-wave cavity ring-down spectroscopy (EW-CRDS) for surface-binding studies under flow-injection analysis (FIA) conditions is demonstrated. The EW-CRDS setup consists of an anti-reflection coated Dove prism inside a linear cavity (with standard or super-polishing of the total internal reflective (TIR) surface). A teflon spacer with an elliptical hole clamped on this surface acts as a 20 μL sized flow cell. The baseline noise of this system is of the order of 10<sup>−4</sup> absorbance units; the baseline remains stable over a prolonged time and the prism surface does not become contaminated during repeated injections of the reversibly adsorbing test dyes Crystal Violet (CV) and Direct Red 10 (DR10). At typical FIA or liquid chromatography (LC) flow rates, the system has sufficient specificity to discriminate between species with different surface affinities. For CV a much stronger decrease in ring-down time is observed than calculated based on its bulk concentration and the effective depth probed by the evanescent wave, indicating binding of this positively charged dye to the negatively charged prism surface. The amount of adsorption can be influenced by adjusting the flow rate or the eluent composition. At a flow rate of 0.5 mL/min, an enrichment factor of 60 was calculated for CV; for the poorly adsorbing dye DR10 it is 5. Super-polishing of the already polished TIR surface works counter-productively. The adsorbing dye Crystal Violet has a detection limit of 3 μM for the standard polished surface; less binding occurs on the super-polished surface and the detection limit is 5 μM. Possible applications of EW-CRDS for studying surface binding or the development of bio-assays are discussed.
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