Novel Applications of Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy
Roach, David Michael
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Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy (SECM) is most commonly used to spatially resolve reaction rates, image surface topography and surface reactivity. In this research, SECM is applied to various chemical systems in order to resolve local reaction chemistry and to produce patterns with dimensions of tens of microns in n-alkanethiol passivated gold substrates. Upon completing construction of the instrumentation, SECM was applied to capillary electrophoresis to accurately and reproducibly place the electrode directly above a very small capillary opening. Feedback SECM was then used to image and pattern surfaces, effectively distinguishing between insulating and conductive domains. Finally, the size of desorbed features patterned on a passivated gold substrate were studied as a function of both applied potential and ionic strength. Electrochemical detection in capillary electrophoresis requires decoupling the voltage applied to the working electrode from the separation voltage applied across the capillary. End-capillary electrochemical detection achieves this by placing the electrode just outside the ground end of the separation capillary. Obtaining adequate signal-to-noise in this arrangement requires using small inner diameter capillaries. Decreasing the inner diameter of the separation capillary, however, increases the difficulty of aligning the microelectrode with the open end of the capillary. Using SECM, the position of the capillary opening is determined while electroactive material is continuously emerging from the end of the capillary. The SECM instrument is then used to place the electrode at the position of maximum current for subsequent separations. Subsequent measurements found that the best signal-to-noise is obtained when the detection electrode is placed directly opposite the capillary opening and just outside of the capillary opening. When the electrode is further above the opening (but still opposite the capillary opening), the signal-to-noise does not dramatically decrease until the electrode is more than 30 Î¼m above the 10 Î¼m inner-diameter capillary. Limits of detection for 2,3-dihydroxybenzoic acid were found to be 8.2 fmol when aligned manually, and 3.8 fmol when the SECM is used to automatically align the microelectrode. SECM was then used to image a series of multi-disk electrode arrays in order to demonstrate the ability of the instrument to discriminate between conductive and insulating domains. Upon demonstrating the capacity of the SECM to image very small domains of conductor on an insulating substrate, n-alkanethiol passivated gold surfaces were patterned using site-selective desorption. A number patterns, potentially useful for enzyme deposition, were subsequently produced in the passivated gold substrate. The feature size of the desorbed domains was monitored as a function of applied potential and the ionic strength of the solution used for desorption. Results showed that applying a more negative potential or increasing the ionic strength of the solution increased the magnitude of the electric field at the surface of the passivated gold substrate and resulted in a more complete, larger desorption. Both ionic strength and applied desorption potential prove to be parameters useful for controlling the size of patterned features in site selective desorption.
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