Jump to main content
Jump to site search

Issue 15, 2014
Previous Article Next Article

A microtensiometer capable of measuring water potentials below −10 MPa

Author affiliations


Tensiometers sense the chemical potential of water (or water potential, Ψw) in an external phase of interest by measuring the pressure in an internal volume of liquid water in equilibrium with that phase. For sub-saturated phases, the internal pressure is below atmospheric and frequently negative; the liquid is under tension. Here, we present the initial characterization of a new tensiometer based on a microelectromechanical pressure sensor and a nanoporous membrane. We explain the mechanism of operation, fabrication, and calibration of this device. We show that these microtensiometers operate stably out to water potentials below −10 MPa, a tenfold extension of the range of current tensiometers. Finally, we present use of the device to perform an accurate measurement of the equation of state of liquid water at pressures down to −14 MPa. We conclude with a discussion of outstanding design considerations, and of the opportunities opened by the extended range of stability and the small form factor in sensing applications, and in fundamental studies of the thermodynamic properties of water.

Graphical abstract: A microtensiometer capable of measuring water potentials below −10 MPa

Back to tab navigation

Supplementary files

Publication details

The article was received on 19 Mar 2014, accepted on 24 May 2014 and first published on 27 May 2014

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C4LC00342J
Author version
Download author version (PDF)
Lab Chip, 2014,14, 2806-2817

  •   Request permissions

    A microtensiometer capable of measuring water potentials below −10 MPa

    V. Pagay, M. Santiago, D. A. Sessoms, E. J. Huber, O. Vincent, A. Pharkya, T. N. Corso, A. N. Lakso and A. D. Stroock, Lab Chip, 2014, 14, 2806
    DOI: 10.1039/C4LC00342J

Search articles by author