Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering


Electrical Engineering

First Advisor

Jung-Chih Chiao


pH sensor is an essential component used in many chemical, food, and bio-material industries. Conventional glass electrodes have been used to construct pH sensors, however, have some disadvantages. Glass electrodes are easily affected by alkaline or HF solution, they require a high input impedance pH meter, they often exhibit a sluggish response. In some specific applications, it is also difficult to use glass electrodes for in vivo biomedical or food monitoring applications due to the difficulty of size miniaturization, planarization and polymerization based on current manufacturing technologies. In this work, we have demonstrated a novel flexible pH sensor based on low-cost sol-gel fabrication process of iridium oxide (IrOx) sensing film (IROF). A pair of flexible miniature IrOx/AgCl electrode generated the action potential from the solution by electrochemical mechanism to obtain the pH level of the reagent. The fabrication process including sol-gel, thermal oxidation, and the electro-plating process of the silver chloride (AgCl) reference electrode were reported in the work. The IrOx film was verified and characterized using electron dispersive analysis (EDAX), scanning electron microscope (SEM), and x-ray diffraction (XRD). The flexible pH sensor's performance and characterization have been investigated with different testing parameters such as sensitivity, response time, stability, reversibility, repeatability, selectivity and temperature dependence. The flexible IrOx pH sensors exhibited promising sensing performance with a near-Nernstian response of sensitivity which is between -51.1mV/pH and -51.7mV/pH in different pH levels ranging from 1.5 to 12 at 25°C. Two applications including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) diagnosis and food freshness wireless monitoring using our micro-flexible IrOx pH sensors were demonstrated. For the GERD diagnosing system, we embedded the micro flexible pH sensor on a 1.2cmx3.8cm of the capsule size of wireless sensor implanted inside the esophagus. Our pH electrode can monitor the pH changes of gastric juice in real time when the reflux happening in the esophagus. Our micro flexible pH sensor performed clear responses in each distinct pH reflux episode quickly and accurately comparing with the other commercial pH monitoring system. For the food freshness monitoring applications, we used the flexible pH sensor as a freshness indicator to monitor the pH changing profile during the food spoilage procedure. The sensor was then embedded with radio frequency identification (RFID) based passive telemetry enabling remote monitoring of food freshness. In the result, our pH-wireless RFID system presented 633Hz/pH of the sensitivity in the frequency calibration. The calibration of stability and dynamical response of the RFID system were also demonstrated before the test on food freshness monitoring. Finally, a white fish meat for long term spoilage procedure monitoring was applied and tested by using our wireless IrOx pH sensing system. Our RFID pH sensing module is able to monitor, collect and transmit the pH information continuously for 18 hours during the food spoilage procedure. In this dissertation, a micro size of IrOx/AgCl pH sensor was fabricated on a flexible substrate. The physical properties of the IrOx thin film was verified in the work. The different sensing capability such as the sensitivity, stability, reversibility, response time, repeatability, selectivity, and temperature dependence was then demonstrated in this work. After the different in-vitro tests, the pH sensor were embedded with our passive RFID circuitry for the in-vivo GERD diagnosis and food freshness monitoring application. Our wireless pH sensing system was able to deliver the accurate and quick pH sensing data wirelessly.In conclusion, our deformable IrOx pH electrodes have been demonstrated with the advantages of accommodating and conforming sensors in small spaces or curved surfaces. This miniature IrOx pH sensor can respond to distinct potentials of the various pH levels as traditional glass electrodes, however, the miniature, bio-compatible and flexible substrate and the ability to be integrated in batterryless telemetry enable the pH sensor to be applied on many new medical, bio-chemical and biological field.


Electrical and Computer Engineering | Engineering


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington