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Anal Chem. 2011 Sep 1;83(17):6658-66. doi: 10.1021/ac2011729. Epub 2011 Aug 3.

Head-to-head comparisons of carbon fiber microelectrode coatings for sensitive and selective neurotransmitter detection by voltammetry.

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Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior, David Geffen School of Medicine and California NanoSystems Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.


Voltammetry is widely used to investigate neurotransmission and other biological processes but is limited by poor chemical selectivity and fouling of commonly used carbon fiber microelectrodes (CFMs). We performed direct comparisons of three key coating materials purported to impart selectivity and fouling resistance to electrodes: Nafion, base-hydrolyzed cellulose acetate (BCA), and fibronectin. We systematically evaluated the impact on a range of electrode parameters. Fouling due to exposure to brain tissue was investigated using an approach that minimizes the use of animals while enabling evaluation of statistically significant populations of electrodes. We find that BCA is relatively fouling-resistant. Moreover, detection at BCA-coated CFMs can be tuned by altering hydrolysis times to minimize the impact on sensitivity losses while maintaining fouling resistance. Fibronectin coating is associated with moderate losses in sensitivity after coating and fouling. Nafion imparts increased sensitivity for dopamine and norepinephrine but not serotonin, as well as the anticipated selectivity for cationic neurotransmitters over anionic metabolites. Although Nafion has been suggested to resist fouling, both dip-coating and electrodeposition of Nafion are associated with substantial fouling, similar to levels observed at bare electrodes after exposure to brain tissue. Direct comparisons of these coatings identified unique electroanalytical properties of each that can be used to guide selection tailored to the goals and environment of specific studies.

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