If you want to show the presence of a particular substance in a liquid, you need a device that can measure that. One option to do that is with a potentiostat.
The word potentiostat comes from potential. In electronics and electrochemistry a potential is stored energy or the “potential to do work”. Applying a potential with a potentiostats to a conducting surface in a conducting solution can induce a particular electrode current which is measured by the potentiostat. The advantage of a potentiostat is that it has complete control over the potential, unlike other power sources.
What is a potentiostat used for?
A potentiostat is used mainly in electrochemistry. For example, electrochemical researchers want to show how much lead there is in the drinking water (Figure 1), how much iron there is in blood or investigate how rainwater affects the surface of a certain metal (e.g. resulting in rusting).
How does a potentiostat work?
A potentiostat applies potential to a certain surface, an electrode. The amount of electrons on the surface is thereby reduced or increased. This causes the liquid to be triggered to deliver or consume electrodes to compensate for this. The exchange of electrons per time, the electrode’s current, can be measured by the potentiostat. This is usually done in a 3-electrode setup (Figure 2).
An electrode made to deliver current of a certain substance is present is called a sensor. This sensor has a certain sensitivity to the substance that you want to measure. For this reason, there are many different sensors that react in different ways to certain chemical substances.
Sometimes a sensor can be used multiple times, but often they are disposable, so for a one-time use, and the sensor is permanently changed by the reactions happening at the electrodes.
Different types of potentiostats
There are several types of potentiostats used by electrochemical researchers.
- Most researchers in a university or laboratory use a potentiostat to detect all sorts of possible substances in fluid (for example, the PalmSens4)
- But there are also potentiostats that are only used to detect one particular substance. PalmSens makes customized potentiostats, so-called OEM potentiotates.
- The small portable EmStat potentiostat of PalmSens is designed to make simple measurements in different fluids.
Without associated software, you can’t do anything with a potentiostat. This is because you want to see the measurements in a graph, the so-called voltammogram. PalmSens potentiostats can be connected to all the existing potentiostat software, but you can also use our own easy-to-use software to get you started.
Potentiostats can be very pricey. However, PalmSens managed to develop a series of potentiostats that are highly affordable, especially for the given specifications. Put it on the test and compare our specifications with those of the competitors. Email us for a quotation or call us to discuss the possibilities for your research with us.