Evaluation, Pitfalls and Recommendations for the “Water Layer Test” for Solid Contact Ion-selective Electrodes


The “water layer test” is a crucial validation step of solid-contact ion-selective electrodes. It can confirm or contest the claim that the tested electrode is indeed a genuine solid contact electrode without an aqueous film between the ion-selective membrane and its solid contact. Information about the presence of a water layer is essential for the interpretation of drifts in the electrode potentials commonly experienced with solid contact electrodes. Since its publication, the water layer test has been ubiquitously used, but without a standardized protocol the interpretation (or misinterpretation) of the test results led to uncertainties in the conclusions. Through both experiments and simulations based on theoretical models we have investigated the experimental parameters that can influence the results of the water layer test. We propose guidelines to minimize the possibility of misinterpretation of the results of the water layer test by considering the key factors that affect the shape of transients recorded during the water layer test. Most importantly, we emphasize the importance of allowing sufficient time for conditioning the tested electrode before the water layer test and providing adequate time for equilibration during the experiment. Using a thin ion-selective membrane and thin solid-contact layer for the tests is also recommended.

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