Fundamentals of fast-scan cyclic voltammetry for dopamine detection†
Fast-scan cyclic voltammetry (FSCV) is used with carbon-fiber microelectrodes for the real-time detection of neurotransmitters on the subsecond time scale. With FSCV, the potential is ramped up from a holding potential to a switching potential and back, usually at a 400 V s−1 scan rate and a frequency of 10 Hz. The plot of current vs. applied potential, the cyclic voltammogram (CV), has a very different shape for FSCV than for traditional cyclic voltammetry collected at scan rates which are 1000-fold slower. Here, we explore the theory of FSCV, with a focus on dopamine detection. First, we examine the shape of the CVs. Background currents, which are 100-fold higher than faradaic currents, are subtracted out. Peak separation is primarily due to slow electron transfer kinetics, while the symmetrical peak shape is due to exhaustive electrolysis of all the adsorbed neurotransmitters. Second, we explain the origins of the dopamine waveform, and the factors that limit the holding potential (oxygen reduction), switching potential (water oxidation), scan rate (electrode instability), and repetition rate (adsorption). Third, we discuss data analysis, from data visualization with color plots, to the automated algorithms like principal components regression that distinguish dopamine from pH changes. Finally, newer applications are discussed, including optimization of waveforms for analyte selectivity, carbon nanomaterial electrodes that trap dopamine, and basal level measurements that facilitate neurotransmitter measurements on a longer time scale. FSCV theory is complex, but understanding it enables better development of new techniques to monitor neurotransmitters in vivo.