Membrane Selection and ISFET Configuration Evaluation for Soil Nitrate Sensing

Birrell, Stuart
Hummel, John
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Successful implementation of site-specific crop management relies on accurate quantification of spatial variation of important factors. Data collection on a finer spatial resolution than is feasible with manual and/or laboratory methods is often required but cost prohibitive. Therefore, there is a need for the development of sensors to more accurately characterize within-field variability. The objective of this research was to investigate matrix membranes produced from different combinations of ligand and plasticizer materials using ion-selective electrode (ISE) technology, and to use selected membranes to develop a nitrate ion-selective field effect transistor (ISFET) which might be integrated with a flow injection analysis (FIA) system for real-time soil analysis. Several ion-selective membranes were tested, and all of the evaluated membranes proved to be viable candidates for the development of a nitrate ISFET. Membranes using methyltridodecylammonium chloride (MTDA) as the ligand showed a better response to nitrates at low concentrations while those using tetradodecylammonium nitrate (TDDA) ligand showed superior selectivity for the nitrate ion. A multi- ISFET nitrate sensor was successfully developed. The electrical responses of the ISFETs were consistent and predictable. While significant difficulty was found in preparing a multi-ISFET chip with all four sensors operational, once prepared, the multi-ISFET chips were reliable and performed through extensive tests without failure. The sensitivities of the nitrate ISFETs (38-46 mV/decade) were lower than the theoretical Nernst sensitivity. The nitrate ISFETs proved to be viable sensors for the development of a real-time soil nitrate analysis system, under the conditions of our tests.


This article is from Transactions of the ASAE 43 (2000):197–206, doi:10.13031/2013.2694.

Soil, Site-specific management, Nitrate