The comprehensive microscopic, spectroscopic, and in vitro voltammetric analysis presented in this work, which builds on the well-studied properties of carbon-based materials, facilitates potential ways for improvement of carbon fiber microelectrodes (CFMs) for neuroscience applications. Investigations by both, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and confocal Raman spectroscopy, confirm a higher degree of structural ordering for the fibers exposed to carbonization temperatures. An evident correlation is also identified between the extent of structural defects observed from SEM and Raman results with the CFM electrochemical performance for dopamine detection. To improve CFM physico-chemical surface stability and increase its mechanical resistance to the induced compressive stress during anticipated in vivo tissue penetration, successful coating of the carbon fiber with boron-doped diamond (BDD) is also performed and microspectroscopically analyzed here. The absence of spectral shifts of the diamond Raman vibrational signature verifies that the growth of an unstrained BDD thin film was achieved. Although more work needs to be done to identify optimal parameter values for improved BDD deposition, this study serves as a demonstration of foundational technology for the development of more sensitive electrochemical sensors, that may have been impractical previously for clinical applications, due to limitations in either safety or performance.
Keywords: boron-doped diamond thin film; carbon fiber; confocal Raman spectroscopy; fast-scan cyclic voltammetry (FSCV); scanning electron microscopy (SEM).