A practical guide to using boron doped diamond in electrochemical research
Conducting, boron doped diamond (BDD), in addition to its superior material properties, offers several notable attributes to the electrochemist making it an intriguing material for electrochemical research. These include the widest solvent window of all electrode materials; low background and capacitive currents; reduced fouling compared to other electrodes and; the ability to withstand extreme potentials, corrosive and high temperature/pressure environments. However, BDD is not your typical electrode material, it is a semi-conductor doped degenerately with boron to present semi-metallic characteristics. Input from materials scientists, chemists and physicists has been required to aid understanding of how to work with this material from an electrochemical viewpoint and improve electrode quality. Importantly, depending on how the BDD has been grown and then subsequently treated, prior to electrochemical measurement, the resulting material properties can vary quite significantly from one electrode to the next. This likely explains the variability seen by different researchers working on the same experimental systems. The aim of this “protocols” article is not to provide a state-of-the-art review of diamond electrochemistry, suitable references are provided to the interested reader, but instead serves as a reference point for any researcher wishing to commence work with diamond electrodes and interpret electrochemical data. It provides information on how best to characterise the material properties of the electrode before use and outlines the interplay between boron dopant density, non-diamond-carbon content, grain morphology, surface chemistry and redox couple identity. All should ideally be considered when interpretating electrochemical data arising from the diamond electrode. This will aid the reader in making meaningful comparisons between data obtained by different researchers using different diamond electrodes. The guide also aims to help educate the researcher in choosing which form of BDD is best suited to their research application.