Federal Institute of Materials Research and Testing (BAM), Division 8.1 - Sensors, Measurement and Testing Methods, Unter den Eichen 87, 12205 Berlin, Germany and Federal Institute of Materials Research and Testing (BAM), Division 8.2 - Non Destructive Testing Methods for Civil Engineering, Unter den Eichen 87, 12205 Berlin, Germany. [Email]
In this communication a novel concept for pH sensing is introduced which is specifically adapted to monitor carbonation induced corrosion in concrete structures. The method is based on a ratiometric measurement principle, exploiting the pH sensitive colour switching of thymol blue in the basic pH regime and the emissive properties of two different (Zn)CdSe/ZnS core shell quantum dots. The transition point of thymol blue in a Hydrogel D4 matrix was determined to be at around pH 11.6, which fits ideally to the intended application. Next to the fundamental spectroscopic characterization of the ratiometric response, a new design for a sensor head, suitable for the incorporation into concrete matrices is presented. Toward this, a manufacturing process was developed which includes the preparation of a double layer of polymers containing either thymol blue or a quantum dot mixture inside a porous ceramic tube. Results of a proof-of-priciple performance test of the sensor head in solutions of different pH and in cement specimens are presented, with encouraging results paving the way for future field tests in concrete.