Measuring the pH level of a solution is usually a relatively simple process. However, that process begins to get more complicated as things get smaller.
Examining changes in acidity or alkalinity at the nanoscale, for example, has been a nearly impossible feat for researchers. Now, a team from the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, including 11 year ECS member Gunter Wittstock, has developed a novel method of pH measurement at the nanoscale.
The group has developed a nanosensor with the ability to continuously monitor changes in pH levels.
This from the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw:
Used as a scanning electrochemical microscope probe, it allows for the precise measurement of changes in acidity/alkalinity occurring over very small fragments of the surface of a sample immersed in a solution. The spatial resolution here is just 50 nm, and in the future, it can be reduced even further.
“The ability to monitor changes in the acidity or alkalinity of solutions at the nanoscale, and thus over areas whose dimensions can be counted in billionths of a meter, is an important step toward better understanding of many chemical processes. The most obvious examples here are various kinds of catalytic reactions or pitting corrosion, which begins on very small fragments of a surface,” said Marcin Opallo, lead author in the study.
The team hopes that this new method could lead to monitoring of pH changes taking place in the vicinity of individual chemical molecules.