In biochemistry, the absence of a compact, assembly-free pH sensor with high sensitivity and signal-to-noise ratio has been a persistent hurdle in achieving accurate pH measurements in real time, particularly in complex liquid environments. This manuscript introduces what we believe to be a novel solution in the form of a miniaturized pH sensor utilizing an assembly-free ball lens on a tapered multimode optical fiber (TMMF), offering the potential to revolutionize pH sensing in biochemical applications. A multimode optical fiber (MMF) was subjected to tapering processes, leading to the creation of an ultra-thin needle-like structure with a cross-sectional diameter of about 12.5 µm and a taper length of 3 mm. Subsequently, a ball lens possessing a diameter of 20 µm was fabricated at the apex of the taper. The resultant structure was coated utilizing the dip-coating technique, involving a composite mixture of epoxy and pH-sensitive dye, 2’,7’-bis(2-carboxyethyl)-5-(and-6)-carboxyfluorescein (BCECF), thereby ensconcing the tapered ball lens with dye molecules for pH sensing. This study encompassed the fabrication and evaluation of six distinct fiber structures, incorporating the cleaved endface, the convex lens, and the ball lens structures to compare light focal lengths and propagation intensities. Computational simulations and numerical analyses were conducted to elucidate the encompassing light focal distances across the full array of lens configurations. The efficacy of the proposed pH sensor was subsequently assessed through its deployment within a complex liquid medium spanning a pH spectrum ranging from 6 to 8. Real-time data acquisition was performed with a fast response time of 0.5 seconds. A comparative analysis with a pH sensor predicated upon a single TMMF embedded with the fluorescent dye underscored the substantial signal enhancement achieved by the proposed system twice the fluorescence signal magnitude. The proposed assembly-free miniaturized pH sensor not only substantiates enhanced signal collection efficiency but also decisively addresses the persistent challenges of poor signal-to-noise ratio encountered within contemporary miniaturized pH probes.


Electrical and Computer Engineering

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Open Access

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Article - Journal

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Final Version

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