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The differences in the electrochemical oxidation of two commonly known catecholamines, dopamine and norepinephrine, and one catechol, dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC), at three different types of carbon based electrodes comprising conventionally polished glassy carbon (GC), nitrogen-doped carbon nanotubes (N-CNTs), and non-doped CNTs were assessed. Raman microscopy and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) were employed to evaluate structural and compositional properties. Raman measurements indicate that N-CNT electrodes have ca. 2.4 times more edge plane sites over non-doped CNTs. XPS data show no evidence of oxygen functionalities at the surface of either CNT type. N-CNTs possess 4.0 at. % nitrogen as pyridinic, pyrrolic, and quaternary nitrogen functionalities that result in positively charged carbon surfaces in neutral and acidic solutions. The electrochemical behavior of the various carbon electrodes were investigated by cyclic voltammetry conducted in pH 5.8 acetate buffer. Semiintegral analysis of the voltammograms reveals a significant adsorptive character of dopamine and norepinephrine oxidation at N-CNT electrodes. Larger peak splittings, ΔEp, for the cyclic voltammograms of both catecholamines and a smaller ΔEp for the cyclic voltammogram for DOPAC at N-CNT electrodes suggest that electrostatic interactions hinder oxidation of cationic dopamine and norepinephrine, but facilitate anionic DOPAC oxidation. These observations were supported by titrimetry of solid suspensions to determine the pH of point of zero charge (pHpzc) and estimate the number of basic sites for both CNT varieties. This study demonstrates that carbon purity, the presence of exposed edge plane sites, surface charge, and basicity of CNTs are important factors for influencing adsorption and enhancing the electrochemical oxidation of catecholamines and catechols.
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