Ion-selective self-referencing probes for measuring specific ion flux

Brian Reid, Min Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The metal vibrating probe developed in the 1970s to measure electric current is sensitive down to the micro-Amp range, but detects only net current due to flow of multiple ions and is too large to measure from single cells. Electrophysiological techniques which use glass microelectrodes such as voltage clamping can be used on single cells but are also non-specific. Ion-selective probes are glass microelectrodes containing at their tip a small amount of ionophore permeable to a particular ion. The electrode is therefore sensitive to changes in concentration of this ion. If the probe tip is moved at low frequency between two points in a concentration gradient of this ion then the electrochemical potential of the solution inside the electrode fluctuates in proportion to the size of the ion gradient. This fluctuation is amplified and recorded and is used to calculate the actual ion flux using Fick's law of diffusion. In this mini-review we describe the technique of ionselective self-referencing microelectrodes to measure specific ion fluxes. We discuss the development of the technique and describe in detail the methodology and present some representative results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)524-527
Number of pages4
JournalCommunicative and Integrative Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Electrode
  • Flux
  • Ion
  • Probe
  • Selective
  • Self-referencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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