New sensor passes litmus test

Oct 29, 2013
New sensor passes litmus test
PhD student Ali Sardarinejad holding a thin film of ruthenium oxide used in the new pH sensor.

(Phys.org) —Edith Cowan University researchers have drawn on their expertise in nanotechnology to update the humble pH sensor, replacing traditional glass electrode devices that have been in use since the 1930s with a new sensor thinner than a human hair.

Electron Science Research Institute Director Professor Kamal Alameh said the sensor could have exciting new applications in the oil and gas and medical industries.

"Traditional glass pH electrodes are fragile, expensive, bulky and hard to clean," Professor Alameh said.

"We are currently engaged with people in the oil and gas industry who are interested in using our pH sensor to monitor the pH levels of oil in pipelines."

Researcher Devendra Maurya said the sensor could also be suitable to monitor the acidity in patients' stomachs.

"There are teams working on swallowable pills to monitor patients' bodies from the inside. The new ruthenium oxide sensor could be perfect for such an application," he said.

One of the main challenges in developing the sensor was precisely controlling the thickness of the ruthenium oxide nano-film. ECU's $8 million state-of-the-art cleanroom facility played an important role in getting it right.

"We used a magnetron sputtering system to very precisely produce a layer of ruthenium oxide 500 times thinner than a human hair," he said.

"The ruthenium oxide pH can be miniaturised and cheaply mass produced which opens up many applications that the traditional sensors would not be suitable for."

The research, High-sensitivity pH sensor employing a sub-micron ruthenium oxide thin-film, was recently published in Sensors and Actuators A.

Explore further: Device could detect driver drowsiness, make roads safer

Related Stories

Miniature pressure sensors for medical touch

Mar 05, 2012

A new kind of flexible, transparent pressure sensor, developed at the University of California, Davis, for use in medical applications, relies on a drop of liquid.

Recommended for you

Device could detect driver drowsiness, make roads safer

just added

Drowsy driving injures and kills thousands of people in the United States each year. A device being developed by Vigo Technologies Inc., in collaboration with Wichita State University professor Jibo He and ...

New capability takes sensor fabrication to a new level

22 hours ago

Operators must continually monitor conditions in power plants to assure they are operating safely and efficiently. Researchers on the Sensors and Controls Team at DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory ...

Smart phones spot tired drivers

23 hours ago

An electronic accelerometer of the kind found in most smart phones that let the device determine its orientation and respond to movement, could also be used to save lives on our roads, according to research ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.