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NRL NISE - Towards the Reagent-Less Electrochemical Detection of Polyfluoroalkyl-Compounds in Water


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We have been developing a prototype instrument that is based on the electrochemical detection of water contaminants (e.g. heavy metals, pesticides, industrial compounds, and polyfluoroalkyl substances) to assess the safety of drinking water. One of the main limitations of water analysis in the field for the warfighter is the dependence of chemical sensors with added reagents. Current water analysis kits are designed for company-sized units. These kits are far too large for individual warfighters and squads and include limitations such as reagent expiration, insufficient user training, and relatively long time to result. This handheld instrument will benefit warfighters by enabling the testing of water sources for drinking safety, especially if the mission excludes bulk water delivery. For polyfluoroalkyl-compounds, the indirect electrochemical detection of perfluorooctanesulfonic acid is reported using molecularly imprinted polymers onscreen printed electrodes and epitaxial graphene electrodes. In conjunction, we also developed a unique sensor probe to eliminate the need for added buffers or salts. Our device has favorable Size, Weight, and Power characteristics; is powered by rechargeable NiMH batteries; and can be interfaced with a laptop computer or other device via a wireless Bluetooth connection. This result adds to warfighter capability by developing a hand-held, battery-powered device that can perform a set of inexpensive electrochemical assays capable of providing real-time broad-spectrum quantification of relevant water contaminants in the field.



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