Multiparametric analysis by paper-assisted potentiometric sensors for diagnostic and monitoring of reinforced concrete structures

Authors: Noemi Colozza, Sara Tazzioli, Alessandro Sassolini, Lorenzo Agosta, Maria Giuseppina di Monted, Kersti Hermansson, Fabiana Arduini

Reinforced concrete has been employed worldwide as a leading building material for public and private structures as well as in modern sculptural art. Although the unrivalled mechanical strength and modelling versatility of this material, several interrelated processes are responsible for its progressive degradation (e.g., carbonation, penetration of aging-promoting agents), decreasing its long-last durability and representing a risk for the public security or the cultural heritage. With the aim to tackle this issue, the present work reports a novel configuration of a screen-printed sensor, obtained by the combination of flexible and robust polyester support and wax-printed filter paper device for the direct application on the concrete surface. Our sensor consists of a polyester-printed three-electrochemical cell that allows dual measurements on reinforced concrete, namely (i) the evaluation of corrosion probability of the metallic reinforcements (which outperforms the half-cell potential standard method) and (ii) the employment of a pH-sensitive iridium oxide film for the measurement of the pH of concrete. The paper was used as a porous material capable of ensuring the electrochemical connection between the Ag/AgCl printed electrode and the concrete solid matrix, acting also as a protective envelope for the electrode. After the laboratory tests, which revealed the noteworthy performances of the sensors in distinguishing among different levels of corrosion as well as measuring the pH of concrete, the developed sensor was applied for on-site measurement at the Giacomo Manzù Museum (Ardea, Italy), demonstrating its suitability for the real application to cultural heritage conservation. Overall, this easy-to-handle and non-invasive diagnostic device provides an innovative analytical approach for the on-site and prompt multiparametric monitoring of the physico-chemical phenomena that endanger the long-lasting preservation of reinforced concrete structures.

Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical
Volume 345, 15 October 2021, 130352

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