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Anal Chem. 2012 Sep 18;84(18):7816-22. doi: 10.1021/ac301445w. Epub 2012 Aug 24.

Rapid, sensitive detection of neurotransmitters at microelectrodes modified with self-assembled SWCNT forests.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, 22904, USA.


Carbon nanotube (CNT) modification of microelectrodes can result in increased sensitivity without compromising time response. However, dip coating CNTs is not very reproducible and the CNTs tend to lay flat on the electrode surface which limits access to the electroactive sites on the ends. In this study, aligned CNT forests were formed using a chemical self-assembly method, which resulted in more exposed CNT ends to the analyte. Shortened, carboxylic acid functionalized single-walled CNTs were assembled from a dimethylformamide (DMF) suspension onto a carbon-fiber disk microelectrode modified with a thin iron hydroxide-decorated Nafion film. The modified electrodes were highly sensitive, with 36-fold higher oxidation currents for dopamine using fast-scan cyclic voltammetry than bare electrodes and 34-fold more current than electrodes dipped in CNTs. The limit of detection (LOD) for dopamine was 17 ± 3 nM at a 10 Hz repetition rate and 65 ± 7 nM at 90 Hz. The LOD at 90 Hz was the same as a bare electrode at 10 Hz, allowing a 9-fold increase in temporal resolution without a decrease in sensitivity. Similar increases were observed for other cationic catecholamine neurotransmitters, and the increases in current were greater than for anionic interferents such as ascorbic acid and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC). The CNT forest electrodes had high sensitivity at 90 Hz repetition rate when stimulated dopamine release was measured in Drosophila . The sensitivity, temporal resolution, and spatial resolution of these CNT forest modified disk electrodes facilitate enhanced electrochemical measurements of neurotransmitter release in vivo.

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