An apparatus that includes highly miniaturized thin-film electrochemical sensor array has been demonstrated as a prototype of instruments for simultaneous detection of multiple substances of interest (analytes) and measurement of acidity or alkalinity in bioprocess streams. Measurements of pH and of concentrations of nutrients and wastes in cell-culture media, made by use of these instruments, are to be used as feedback for optimizing the growth of cells or the production of desired substances by the cultured cells. The apparatus is designed to utilize samples of minimal volume so as to minimize any perturbation of monitored processes.

The apparatus can function in a potentiometric mode (for measuring pH), an amperometric mode (detecting analytes via oxidation/reduction reactions), or both. The sensor array is planar and includes multiple thin-film microelectrodes covered with hydrous iridium oxide. The oxide layer on each electrode serves as both a protective and electrochemical transducing layer. In its

transducing role, the oxide provides electrical conductivity for amperometric measurement or pH response for potentiometric measurement. The oxide on an electrode can also serve as a matrix for one or more enzymes that render the electrode sensitive to a specific analyte. In addition to transducing electrodes, the array includes electrodes for potential control. The array can be fabricated by techniques familiar to the microelectronics industry.

The sensor array is housed in a thin-film liquid-flow cell that has a total volume of about 100 mL. The flow cell is connected to a computer-controlled subsystem that periodically draws samples from the bioprocess stream to be monitored. Before entering the cell, each 100-mL sample is subjected to tangential-flow filtration to remove particles. In the present version of the apparatus, the electrodes are operated under control by a potentiostat and are used to simultaneously measure the pH and the concentration of glucose. It is anticipated that development of procedures for trapping more enzymes into hydrous iridium oxide (and possibly into other electroactive metal oxides) and of means for imparting long-term stability to the transducer layers should make it possible to monitor concentrations of products of many enzyme reactions — for example, such key bioprocess analytes as amino acids, vitamins, lactose, and acetate.

This work was done by R. David Rauh of EIC Laboratories, Inc., for Johnson Space Center. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at

In accordance with Public Law 96-517, the contractor has elected to retain title to this invention. Inquiries concerning rights for its commercial use should be addressed to:

Jeffrey L. Bursell, Controller/Contract Administrator EIC Laboratories, Inc. 111 Downey Street, Norwood, MA 02062 Phone No.: (781) 769-9450

Refer to MSC-23578-1, volume and number of this NASA Tech Briefs issue, and the page number.