Fast responsive, optical trace level ammonia sensor for environmental monitoring
Institute of Analytical Chemistry and Food Chemistry, Graz University of Technology, Stremayrgasse 9, Graz, 8010, Austria
Chemistry Central Journal 2012, 6:124 doi:10.1186/1752-153X-6-124Published: 26 October 2012
Ammonia is a ubiquitous chemical substance which is created in technical and biological processes and harmful to many different organisms. One specific problem is the toxicity of ammonia in fish at levels of 25 μg/l - a very common issue in today’s aqua culture. In this study we report a development of a fast responsive, optical ammonia sensor for trace concentrations.
Different hydrogels have been investigated as host polymers for a pH based sensing mechanism based on fluorescent dyes. A porous hydrophobic fluoropolymer membrane was used as an ion barrier cover layer to achieve a good ammonia permeability. The sensor’s sensitivity towards ammonia as well as crosssensitivity towards pH-value and salinity, and the temperature dependency have been determined. Two different methods to reference fluorescence signals have been employed to eliminate intensity-based measurement drawbacks.
The presented sensor features high sensitivity and a fast response even at concentrations near 1 ppb. No cross sensitivity towards pH and salinity could be observed and temperature dependency was determined as compensateable. Both referencing approaches prove themselves to be able to provide a simple use of the sensor for in-field applications.