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Chimia (Aarau) ; 68(11): 772-7, 2014 Nov.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-26508483


Aquatic environments are complex living systems where biological and chemical constituents change rapidly with time and space and may exhibit synergistic interactions. To understand these processes, the traditional approach based on a typically monthly collection of samples followed by laboratory analysis is not adequate. It must be replaced by high-resolution autonomous in situ detection approaches. In our group at the University of Geneva, we aim to develop and deploy chemical sensor probes to understand complex aquatic systems. Most research centers around electrochemical sensing approaches, which involves: stripping voltammetry at gel-coated microelectrode arrays for direct measurements of bioavailable essential or toxic trace metals; direct potentiometry for the measurement of nutrients and other species involved in the nitrogen and carbon cycles; online desalination for oceanic measurements; the development of robust measurement principles such as thin layer coulometry, and speciation analysis by tandem electrochemical detection with potentiometry and dynamic electrochemistry. These fundamental developments are combined with instrument design, both in-house and with external partners, and result in field deployments in partnership with environmental researchers in Switzerland and the European Union.

Monitoramento Ambiental , Suíça , Poluentes Químicos da Água/análise
Anal Chem ; 84(18): 8038-44, 2012 Sep 18.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-22917023


We report here on a significant improvement in lowering the low detection limit of thin layer coulometric sensors based on liquid ion-selective membranes, using a potassium-selective system as a model example. Various possible processes that may result in an elevated residual current reading after electrolysis were eliminated. Self-dissolution of AgCl on the Ag/AgCl inner element may result in a residual ion flux that could adversely affect the lower detection limit. It was here replaced with an Ag/AgI inner pseudoreference electrode where the self-dissolution equilibrium is largely suppressed. Possible residual currents originating from a direct contact between inner element and ion-selective membranes were eliminated by introducing an inert PVDF separator of 50 µm diameter that was coiled around the inner element by a custom-made instrument. Finally, the influence of electrolyte fluxes from the outer solution across the membrane into the sample was evaluated by altering its lipophilic nature and reducing its concentration. It was found that this last effect is most likely responsible for the observed residual current for the potassium-selective membranes studied here. For the optimized conditions, the calibration curves demonstrated a near zero intercept, thereby paving the way to the coulometric calibration-free sensing of ionic species. A linear calibration curve for the coulometric cell with valinomycin potassium-selective membrane was obtained in the range of 100 nM to 10 µM potassium in the presence of a 10 µM sodium background. In the presence of a higher (100 µM) concentration of sodium, a reliable detection of 1-100 µM of potassium was achieved.

Anal Chem ; 84(14): 6158-65, 2012 Jul 17.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-22703479


Seawater analysis is one of the most challenging in the field of environmental monitoring, mainly due to disparate concentration levels between the analyte and the salt matrix causing interferences in a variety of analytical techniques. We propose here a miniature electrochemical sample pretreatment system for a rapid removal of NaCl utilizing the coaxial arrangement of an electrode and a tubular Nafion membrane. Upon electrolysis, chloride is deposited at the Ag electrode as AgCl and the sodium counterions are transported across the membrane. This cell was found to work efficiently at potentials higher than 400 mV in both stationary and flow injection mode. Substantial residual currents observed during electrolysis were found to be a result of NaCl back diffusion from the outer side of the membrane due to insufficient permselectivity of the Nafion membrane. It was demonstrated that the residual current can be significantly reduced by adjusting the concentration of the outer solution. On the basis of ion chromatography results, it was found that the designed cell used in flow injection electrolysis mode reduced the NaCl concentration from 0.6 M to 3 mM. This attempt is very important in view of nutrient analysis in seawater where NaCl is a major interfering agent. We demonstrate that the pretreatment of artificial seawater samples does not reduce the content of nitrite or nitrate ions upon electrolysis. A simple diffusion/extraction steady state model is proposed for the optimization of the electrolysis cell characteristics.