Carbon Nanotube-Based Ion Selective Sensors for Wearable Applications

Soumyendu Roy, Moshe David-Pur, Yael Hanein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Wearable electronics offer new opportunities in a wide range of applications, especially sweat analysis using skin sensors. A fundamental challenge in these applications is the formation of sensitive and stable electrodes. In this article we report the development of a wearable sensor based on carbon nanotube (CNT) electrode arrays for sweat sensing. Solid-state ion selective electrodes (ISEs), sensitive to Na+ ions, were prepared by drop coating plasticized poly(vinyl chloride) (PVC) doped with ionophore and ion exchanger on CNT electrodes. The ion selective membrane (ISM) filled the intertubular spaces of the highly porous CNT film and formed an attachment that was stronger than that achieved with flat Au, Pt, or carbon electrodes. Concentration of the ISM solution used influenced the attachment to the CNT film, the ISM surface morphology, and the overall performance of the sensor. Sensitivity of 56 ± 3 mV/decade to Na+ ions was achieved. Optimized solid-state reference electrodes (REs), suitable for wearable applications, were prepared by coating CNT electrodes with colloidal dispersion of Ag/AgCl, agarose hydrogel with 0.5 M NaCl, and a passivation layer of PVC doped with NaCl. The CNT-based REs had low sensitivity (-1.7 ± 1.2 mV/decade) toward the NaCl solution and high repeatability and were superior to bare Ag/AgCl, metals, carbon, and CNT films, reported previously as REs. CNT-based ISEs were calibrated against CNT-based REs, and the short-term stability of the system was tested. We demonstrate that CNT-based devices implemented on a flexible support are a very attractive platform for future wearable technology devices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35169-35177
Number of pages9
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number40
StatePublished - 11 Oct 2017


  • carbon nanotube
  • electrochemical sensor
  • ion-selective electrode
  • solid contact
  • solid reference electrode
  • wearable device


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