Nitrogen-doped graphene: effect of graphite oxide precursors and nitrogen content on the electrochemical sensing properties†
Graphene, produced via chemical methods, has been widely applied for electrochemical sensing due to its structural and electrochemical properties as well as its ease of production in large quantity. While nitrogen-doped graphenes are widely studied materials, the literature showing an effect of graphene oxide preparation methods on nitrogen quantity and chemical states as well as on defects and, in turn, on electrochemical sensing is non-existent. In this study, the properties of nitrogen-doped graphene materials, prepared via hydrothermal synthesis using graphite oxide produced by various classical methods using permanganate or chlorate oxidants Staudenmaier, Hummers, Hofmann and Brodie oxidation methods, were studied; the resulting nitrogen-doped graphene oxides were labeled as ST-GO, HU-GO, HO-GO and BR-GO, respectively. The electrochemical oxidation of biomolecules, such as ascorbic acid, uric acid, dopamine, nicotinamide adenine nucleotide and DNA free bases, was carried out using cyclic voltammetry and differential pulse voltammetry techniques. The nitrogen content in doped graphene oxides increased in the order ST-GO < BR-GO < HO-GO < HU-GO. In the same way, the pyridinic form of nitrogen increased and the electrocatalytic effect of N-doped graphene followed this trend, as shown in the cyclic voltammograms. This is a very important finding that provides insight into the electrocatalytic effect of N-doped graphene. The nitrogen-doped graphene materials exhibited improved sensitivity over bare glassy carbon for ascorbic acid, uric acid and dopamine detection. These studies will enhance our understanding of the effects of graphite oxide precursors on the electrochemical sensing properties of nitrogen-doped graphene materials.