Electrostatically stabilized hybrids of carbon and maghemite nanoparticles: electrochemical study and application†
Binary hybrids have been investigated for the past few decades due to the emerging properties of nanoparticle composites. Electrostatically stabilized core–shell nanostructures composed of surface active magnetic nanoparticles (SAMNs) and differently charged carbon nanomaterials display specific electrochemical properties. In this work, a set of binary hybrids that include a new class of magnetic nanoparticles is presented and the electrochemical features of the hybrids are reported. Gallic acid derived carbon dots (GA-CDs), PEG derived graphene dots (PEG-GDs), and quaternized carbon dots (Q-CDs) characterized by different charged groups were used for the preparation of different complexes with SAMNs. Thus, a set of six binary nanomaterials was obtained, and characterized by electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, cyclic voltammetry and chronoamperometry, demonstrating significant differences in the charge transfer resistance, capacitive current, electrochemical performance, and reversibility with respect to the isolated subunits. Among them, the combination of Q-CDs with an excess of SAMNs led to a Q-CD@SAMN hybrid, which displayed peculiar electrocatalytic properties attributable to the influence of the strong electrostatic interactions exerted by Q-CDs on the SAMN surface. Notwithstanding their small fraction (around 1% w/w), Q-CDs oriented the electrocatalysis of SAMNs toward the selective electro-oxidation of polyphenols at low applied potentials (+0.1 V vs. SCE). Finally, the Q-CD@SAMN hybrid was used for the development of a coulometric sensor for polyphenols, composed of a simple carbon paste electrode in a small volume electrochemical flow cell (1 μL), and used for the complete direct electro-oxidation of polyphenols from plant extracts.