Self-referencing optical fiber pH sensor for marine microenvironments


  • Self-referencing pH sensor for real-time pH measurement in marine microenvironments.
  • Entrapped meta-cresol purple in an optimized TEOS/DDS sol-gel matrix.
  • Simple sensor fabrication and uncomplicated supporting instrumentation.
  • Conforms to the GOA-ON “weather” measurement quality standard.


This study presents the development of an optical fiber pH sensor based on evanescent wave absorbance for continuous pH measurements in marine microenvironments. The sensing layer consists of an optimized sol-gel matrix of tetraethoxysilane and dimethyldiethoxysilane, which substantially improves the entrapment efficiency of the pH indicator meta-cresol purple, leading to a long usable lifetime. The optical fiber pH sensor conforms to the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network “weather” measurement quality guideline with precision of approximately 0.02 pH units, has a dynamic pHT range of 7.4 to 9.7 in seawater, a response time of 6 minutes and a usable lifetime of 7 days. The optical fiber pH sensor has additional advantages of being self-referencing, without the need of an external sensor reference, having a simple fabrication method and basic spectrometer instrumentation. The suitability of the optical fiber pH sensor was demonstrated in real-time measurements of the ecologically significant green seaweed Ulva sp. The optical fiber pH sensor monitored pH variations due to metabolic activity over 7 days within the seaweed canopy and 4 days within the diffusion boundary layer interface, demonstrating the suitability for measurements in marine microenvironments.

Chen W. H., Dillon W. D. N., Armstrong E. A., Moratti S. C. & McGraw C. M., in press.
Self-referencing optical fiber pH sensor for marine microenvironments. Talanta. Article (subscription required).

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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