IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON CIRCUITS AND SYSTEMS—I: REGULAR PAPERS, VOL. 56, NO. 7, JULY 2009 1339
Current-Mirror-Based Potentiostatsfor Three-Electrode AmperometricElectrochemical Sensors
Mohammad Mahdi Ahmadi
, Member, IEEE
, and Graham A. Jullien
, Life Fellow, IEEE
We present a new circuit topology for potentiostatsthat interface with three-electrode amperometric electrochemicalsensors. In this new topology, a current-copying circuit, e.g., a cur-rent mirror, is placed in the sensor current path to generate a mir-roredimageofthesensorcurrent.Themirroredimageisthenmea-sured and processed instead of the sensor current itself. The newpotentiostat topology consumes very low power, occupies a verysmall die area, and has potentially verylow noise. Thesecharacter-istics make the new topology very suitable for portable or bioim-plantable applications. In order to demonstrate the feasibility of the new topology, we present the results of a potentiostat circuitimplemented in a 0.18- m CMOS process. The circuit convertsthe sensor current to a frequency-modulated pulse waveform, forwhich the time difference between two consecutive pulses is in-versely proportional to the sensor current. The potentiostat mea-sures the sensor current from 1 nA to 1 A with better than 0.1%of accuracy. It consumes only 70 W of power from a 1.8-V supplyvoltage and occupies an area of 0.02 mm
Amperometric sensor, current mirror, electro-chemical sensor, frequency compensation, potentiostat.
THREE-ELECTRODE amperometric electrochemicalsensor, shown in Fig. 1, consists of a working electrode(WE), on which an electrochemical reaction takes place; areference electrode (RE), which is used to measure the solutionpotential; and a counter electrode (CE), which is an inertconductor supplying the current required for electrochemicalreaction at WE .As illustrated in Fig. 1, potentiostat is an electronic instru-ment that controls the potential difference between WEs andREs at a desired cell potentialby injecting the properamount of current into CE .In this paper, we present a new circuit topology to realize apotentiostat. The new topology is based on the use of a cur-rent-copying circuit (e.g., a current mirror), in the path of the
Manuscript received February 25, 2008; revised June 30, 2008. First pub-lished September 19, 2008; current version published July 01, 2009. This work was supported in part by the Alberta Informatics Circle of Research Excel-lence, by Micronet R&D, and by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Re-search Council of Canada. This paper was recommended by Associate EditorA. van Schaik.M. M. Ahmandi is with Sound Design Technologies Ltd., Burlington, ONL7L 5P5, Canada (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).G. Jullien is with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering,University of Calgary, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada.Color versions of one or more of the ﬁgures in this paper are available onlineat http://ieeexplore.ieee.org.Digital Object Identiﬁer 10.1109/TCSI.2008.2005927Fig. 1. Conceptual drawing of a three-electrode amperometric electrochemicalsensor and a potentiostat.
sensor current, to generate a mirrored image of the sensor cur-rent and then to process the mirrored current instead of thesensor current. To better illustrate the advantages of the newtopology over existing topologies, in Section II, we review thebasicstructureofthepriorpublishedpotentiostattopologiesandbrieﬂy explain their advantages and limitations. In Section III,we present the new topology with a few examples of its circuitrealization.InSectionIV,wediscusstheoperationofourimple-mented potentiostat circuit along with a detailed analysis of itsfrequencycompensation.InSectionV,weprovidethemeasure-ment results of our potentiostat circuit and conclude this paperin Section VI.II. R
EVIEW OF THE
Basically, a potentiostat has two main functions: 1) control-ling the potential difference between WE and RE and 2) mea-suring the current ﬂowing between WE and CE. Each of thesefunctions can be realized with a few different circuit conﬁgura-tions, as summarized in the following subsections.
A. Potential-Control Conﬁgurations
The cell potential can be controlled in three conﬁgurations: grounded WE; grounded RE; and grounded CE. The ﬁrsttwo conﬁgurations are electrically the same; thus, in fact, thereare really only two different conﬁgurations .The grounded-WE conﬁguration is the most popular conﬁg-uration. Fig. 2 shows the basic implementation of this conﬁg-uration. As shown, WE is kept at the ground potential, and anoperational ampliﬁer, called the control ampliﬁer, controls the
Part of the introductory material presented in this section is taken from [2,Ch. 13]. It is included for completeness.1549-8328/$25.00 © 2009 IEEE