A novel lab-on-chip spectrophotometric pH sensor for autonomous in situ seawater measurements to 6000 m depth on stationary and moving observing platforms

We report a new, autonomous Lab-on-Chip (LOC) microfluidic pH sensor with a 6000 m depth capability, ten times the depth capability of the state of the art autonomous spectrophotometric sensor. The pH is determined spectrophotometrically using purified meta-Cresol Purple indicator dye offering high precision (<0.001 pH unit measurement reproducibility), high frequency (every 8 min) measurements on the total proton scale from the surface to the deep ocean (to 600 bar). The sensor requires low power (3 W during continuous operation or ∼1300 J per measurement) and low reagent volume (∼3 μL per measurement) and generates small waste volume (∼2 mL per measurement) which can be retained during deployments. The performance of the LOC pH sensor was demonstrated on fixed and moving platforms over varying environmental salinity, temperature, and pressure conditions. Measurement accuracy was +0.003 ± 0.022 pH units (n = 47) by comparison with validation seawater sample measurements in coastal waters. The combined standard uncertainty of the sensor in situ pHT measurements was estimated to be ≤0.009 pH units at pH 8.5, ≤ 0.010 pH units at pH 8.0, and ≤0.014 pH units at pH 7.5. Integrated on autonomous platforms, this novel sensor opens new frontiers for pH observations, especially within the largest and most understudied ecosystem on the planet, the deep ocean.

Yin T., Papadimitriou S., Rérolle V. M. C., Arundell M., Cardwell C. L., Walk J., Palmer M. R., Fowell S. E., Schaap A., Mowlem M. C. & Loucaides S., in press. A novel lab-on-chip spectrophotometric pH sensor for autonomous in situ seawater measurements to 6000 m depth on stationary and moving observing platforms. Environmental Science & Technology. Article.


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