Micrometer-scale transient ion transport for real-time pH assay in living rat brains†
Ion transport has been widely used for various applications such as sensing, desalination and energy conversion; however, nearly all applications are based on steady-state ion transport. Herein, we for the first time demonstrate the capability of transient ion transport for in vivo sensing with both high spatial (∼μm) and temporal (∼ms) resolution by using pH as the model target. Transient ion transport behavior (i.e., time-dependent ion current change) was observed by applying high-frequency pulse potential. Importantly, we proposed the ion distribution transient model for this time-dependent ion transport behavior. With this model, the temporal resolution of the as-developed pH microsensor based on ion current was improved to the ms level, thus satisfying the requirement of neurochemical recording. Moreover, our microsensor features good reproducibility, selectivity, and reversibility, and can thus real-time monitor the pH change in living rat brains. This study demonstrates the first example of in vivo sensing based on ion transport, opening a new way to neurochemical monitoring with ultrahigh spatiotemporal resolution. This study is also helpful to understand the transient process of asymmetric ion transport.