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Analyst. 2013 Nov 21;138(22):7031-8. doi: 10.1039/c3an01672b.

A potentiometric tattoo sensor for monitoring ammonium in sweat.

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  • 1Department of Nanoengineering, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0448, USA.


The development and analytical characterization of a novel ion-selective potentiometric cell in a temporary-transfer tattoo platform for monitoring ammonium levels in sweat is presented. The fabrication of this skin-worn sensor, which is based on a screen-printed design, incorporates all-solid-state potentiometric sensor technology for both the working and reference electrodes, in connection to ammonium-selective polymeric membrane based on the nonactin ionophore. The resulting tattooed potentiometric sensor exhibits a working range between 10(-4) M to 0.1 M, well within the physiological levels of ammonium in sweat. Testing under stringent mechanical stress expected on the epidermis shows that the analytical performance is not affected by factors such as stretching or bending. Since the levels of ammonium are related to the breakdown of proteins, the new wearable potentiometric tattoo sensor offers considerable promise for monitoring sport performance or detecting metabolic disorders in healthcare. Such combination of the epidermal integration, screen-printed technology and potentiometric sensing represents an attractive path towards non-invasive monitoring of a variety of electrolytes in human perspiration.

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