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Applying research to chemical industry

Published: 18th January 2010

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MMU’s reputation for applying research to the benefit of industry has been enhanced by scientists claiming a new first in chemical measurement.

A team from the School of Biology, Chemistry and Health Science has developed a disposable electrochemical sensor for measuring pH values.

The novel pH probe based on screen printing technology is reported as a ‘first’ in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Analytical Methods.

Testing of pH is a key process in the production of everything from foodstuffs to pharmaceuticals, and the ability of industry to quickly measure levels of acid-alkaline is vital.

In demand

There is an increasing need for pH sensors that are portable, robust, sensitive, and economical for use in a range of environments such as the food industry, agriculture, medical organisations and oil refinery.

"Traditional probes are fragile, expensive and need constant calibration," explained Dr Craig Banks.

"What we have done is show that a sensor can be made that is a one-shot disposable sensor. It is cheap, needs no calibration and is ideal for in-the-field applications."

The MMU platform is based on screen printing technology which uses the potential difference between two compounds, one pH active and the other pH inactive for the pH measurement of aqueous solutions.

Advantages

It is a method which is ultimately more effective: "In certain applications, the matrix is a complex mixture which would detrimentally affect a glass electrode and in some cases irreversible damage it - using one-shot disposable sensors overcomes this platform," added Dr Banks.

Head of School Professor William Gilmore commented: "Dr Banks and his team have created a highly innovative analytical technique for measuring pH. It will have many uses in manufacturing and in industrial and academic research."

The tests were conducted by Craig Banks and colleagues Dr Rashid Kadara, Norman Jenkinson and Dimitrios Kampouris.

Their paper ‘Screen printed electrochemical platforms for pH sensing’ is the cover story on the first issue of the RSC’s new journal Analytical Methods.