Reagent Free Electrochemical-Based Detection of Silver Ions at Interdigitated Micro Electrodes Using in Situ pH Control

Silver ions, the most toxic form of silver, can be present in drinking water due to their release from silver nanoparticles which are widely used in consumer products. Due to their adverse health effects, a quick portable approach for detection in drinking water is needed. Herein we report on the development of an electrochemical sensor for silver ions detection in tap water using linear sweep voltammetry with in situ pH control; enabled by closely space interdigitated electrode arrays. The in situ pH control approach, allows the pH of a test solution to be tailored to pH 3 thereby eliminating the current need for acid addition. A calibration curve between 0.2 - 10 µM was established for silver detection in sodium acetate when 1.25 V and 1.65 V was applied at the protonator electrode during deposition and stripping, respectively, as a proof of concept study. For the final application in tap water, 1.65 V was applied at the protonator electrode during deposition and stripping. The chlorine ions, present in tap water as a consequence of the disinfection process, facilitated the silver detection and no additional electrolyte had to be added. Combination of complexation of silver ions with chlorine coupled with in situ pH control resulted in linear calibration range between 0.25 and 2 µM in tap water without the need for acidification.