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Anal Chem. 2015;87(10):5095-100. doi: 10.1021/ac504151e. Epub 2015 Apr 30.

Nanopipet-Based Liquid-Liquid Interface Probes for the Electrochemical Detection of Acetylcholine, Tryptamine, and Serotonin via Ionic Transfer.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 600 South Matthews Avenue, Urbana, Illinois 61801, United States.


A nanoscale interface between two immiscible electrolyte solutions (ITIES) provides a unique analytical platform for the detection of ionic species of biological interest such as neurotransmitters and neuromodulators, especially those that are otherwise difficult to detect directly on a carbon electrode without electrode modification. We report the detection of acetylcholine, serotonin, and tryptamine on nanopipet electrode probes with sizes ranging from a radius of ≈7 to 35 nm. The transfer of these analytes across a 1,2-dichloroethane/water interface was studied by cyclic voltammetry and amperometry. Well-defined sigmoidal voltammograms were observed on the nanopipet electrodes within the potential window of artificial seawater for acetylcholine and tryptamine. The half wave transfer potential, E1/2, of acetylcholine, tryptamine, and serotonin were found to be -0.11, -0.25, and -0.47 V vs E(1/2,TEA) (term is defined later in experimental), respectively. The detection was linear in the range of 0.25-6 mM for acetylcholine and of 0.5-10 mM for tryptamine in artificial seawater. Transfer of serotonin was linear in the range of 0.15-8 mM in LiCl solution. The limit of detection for serotonin in LiCl on a radius ≈21 nm nanopipet electrode was 77 μM, for acetylcholine on a radius ≈7 nm nanopipet electrode was 205 μM, and for tryptamine on a radius ≈19 nm nanopipet electrode was 86 μM. Nanopipet-supported ITIES probes have great potential to be used in nanometer spatial resolution measurements for the detection of neurotransmitters.

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