Electrochemical evaluation of nanocarbons for biogenic analyte detection
This dissertation explores the use of nanocarbons both as conductive supports for redox enzyme electrochemistry and as electrocatalytic components for the nonmediated detection of biogenic analytes. More specifically, the influence of nitrogen doping of these nanocarbons (referred to herein as nitrogen-doped carbon nanotubes, or N-CNTs) on their bioelectrocatalytic performance is studied through direct enzyme adsorption and exploitation of the N-CNTs' inherent reactivity toward H₂O₂ to create H₂O₂-based sensing strategies. Both nondoped CNTs and N-CNTs may be effectively incorporated into biogenic sensing assemblies, as demonstrated herein using a variety of electrochemical techniques. Chapter 1 gives a general overview of the scope of this research and describes previous studies conducted within our laboratories that demonstrate our CNTs' promise as biogenic electrode materials. Chapter 2 describes the chemical vapor deposition (CVD) method used to prepare both CNTs and N-CNTs and establishes their suitability for use in the detection schemes outlined in later chapters through long-term stability studies. Additionally, the redox activity of Fe nanoparticles entrapped in the CNTs as a result of this CVD growth process is examined using a host of electrochemical experiments. Importantly, the data presented in this chapter show that these Fe particles do not explain the observed electrocatalytic response of the CNTs. Chapter 3 explores the direct adsorption of horseradish peroxidase (HRP) at both nondoped and N-CNTs. Spectroscopic and electrochemical assays are used to compare the extent of HRP enzymatic activity upon immobilization at both types of CNTs. Both types of HRP/CNT composites are then utilized in a quantitative H₂O₂ sensing strategy. Chapter 4 discusses the intrinsic reactivity of N-CNTs toward H₂O₂. Koutecky-Levich plots are used to demonstrate differences in H₂O₂ consumption mechanisms between NCNTs and traditional peroxidases. By replacing HRP with N-CNTs in an amperometric glucose detection scheme, the versatility of N-CNTs as a peroxidase substitute for biogenic analyte detection is demonstrated. Chapter 5 outlines future directions for this research, including possible strategies for improving electron transfer between HRP and both types of CNTs. This chapter also presents a newly developed, mediated oxidase-substrate electrochemical detection method that can easily be modified to incorporate CNTs.