Zahrah Alqahtani, Martin Grell

A ‘Frugal’ EGFET Sensor for Waterborne H2S

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Instrumentation
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Analytical Chemistry

Hydrogen sulphide (H2S) is a toxic gas soluble in water, H2Saq, as a weak acid. Since H2Saq usually originates from the decomposition of faecal matter, its presence also indicates sewage dumping and possible parallel waterborne pathogens associated with sewage. We here present a low footprint (‘frugal’) H2Saq sensor as an accessible resource for water quality monitoring. As a sensing mechanism, we find the chemical affinity of thiols to gold (Au) translates to H2Saq. When an Au electrode is used as a control gate (CG) or floating gate (FG) electrode in the electric double layer (EDL) pool of an extended gate field effect transistor (EGFET) sensor, EGFET transfer characteristics shift along the CG voltage axis in response to H2Saq. We rationalise this by the interface potential from the adsorption of polar H2S molecules to the electrode. The sign of the shift changes between Au CG and Au FG, and cancels when both electrodes are Au. The sensor is selective for H2Saq over the components of urine, nor does urine suppress the sensor’s ability to detect H2Saq. Electrodes can be recovered for repeated use by washing in 1M HCl. Quantitatively, CG voltage shift is fitted by a Langmuir-Freundlich (LF) model, supporting dipole adsorption over an ionic (Nernstian) response mechanism. We find a limit-of-detection of 14.9 nM, 100 times below potability.

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