Researchers Create A Soluble Sensor For Detecting pH Levels

By Aaryaa Padhyegurjar

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Chemists at UrFU (Ural Federal University) have created a sensor that can measure the pH of human saliva.

Timofey Moseev (Image Credit Regina Pidgaetskaya)

Saliva pH analysis is a quick and painless way to diagnose a problem. With its help, early detection of problems is feasible, notably gastrointestinal illnesses like gastritis, stomach ulcers, and duodenitis. The pH level of the saliva has an effect on the teeth as well: even a modest increase in saliva acidity can cause tooth decay and other problems.

“Modern fluorometric pH sensors are based on small organic molecules. Typically, they are very sensitive and are able to detect the desired analytic in very low concentrations, up to nanoconcentrations. Our sensor is based on a new compound. We introduced a fluorinated fragment, and this allowed us to get the photophysical and electrochemical properties we needed,” says Timofey Moseev, Engineer-Researcher, Department of Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry, Ural Federal University.

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This fluorophore emits a bright and consistent light that can detect even modest pH changes in biological fluids (tenths). In the examination, micro dosages of the chemical are employed, as well as a spectrometer that exposes the molecule to a specific light (its lifetime is tens of thousands of hours). The pH data appears in 5–7 seconds.

The sensor is reusable, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly. Chemists developed it utilising an atom-efficient synthesis method that didn’t require any additional reagents or catalysts (nickel, copper, or palladium). In addition, the sensor is water soluble.

The new substance is the result of years of collaboration between the departments of organic and biomolecular chemistry and analytical chemistry at the Institute of Chemical Engineering. According to Mikhail Varaksin, head of the Institute of Chemical Engineering at Ural Federal University, Moseev has been working on this subject as a member of the research group since his second year of bachelor’s studies in 2015.


 

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