Ultrasensitive seawater pH measurement by capacitive readout of potentiometric sensors

Potentiometric pH probes remain the gold standard for the detection of pH but are not sufficiently sensitive to reliably detect ocean acidification at adequate frequency. Here, potentiometric probes are made dramatically more sensitive by placing a capacitive electronic component in series to the pH probe while imposing a constant potential over the measurement circuit. Each sample change now triggers a capacitive current transient that is easily identified between the two equilibrium states, and is integrated to reveal the accumulated charge. This affords dramatically higher precision than with traditional potentiometric probes. pH changes down to 0.001 pH units are easily distinguished in buffer and seawater samples, at a precision (standard deviation) of 28 μpH and 67 μpH, respectively, orders of magnitude better than what is possible with potentiometric pH probes.

Kraikaew P., Jeanneret S., Soda Y., Cherubini T. & Bakker E., in press. Ultrasensitive seawater pH measurement by capacitive readout of potentiometric sensors. ACS Sensors. Article (subscription required).

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