Redox-capacitor to connect electrochemistry to redox-biology
It is well-established that redox-reactions are integral to biology for energy harvesting (oxidative phosphorylation), immune defense (oxidative burst) and drug metabolism (phase I reactions), yet there is emerging evidence that redox may play broader roles in biology (e.g., redox signaling). A critical challenge is the need for tools that can probe biologically-relevant redox interactions simply, rapidly and without the need for a comprehensive suite of analytical methods. We propose that electrochemistry may provide such a tool. In this tutorial review, we describe recent studies with a redox-capacitor film that can serve as a bio-electrode interface that can accept, store and donate electrons from mediators commonly used in electrochemistry and also in biology. Specifically, we (i) describe the fabrication of this redox-capacitor from catechols and the polysaccharide chitosan, (ii) discuss the mechanistic basis for electron exchange, (iii) illustrate the properties of this redox-capacitor and its capabilities for promoting redox-communication between biology and electrodes, and (iv) suggest the potential for enlisting signal processing strategies to “extract” redox information. We believe these initial studies indicate broad possibilities for enlisting electrochemistry and signal processing to acquire “systems level” redox information from biology.