Carbon Xerogel Nanostructures with Integrated Bi and Fe Components for Hydrogen Peroxide and Heavy Metal Detection

Molecules. 2020 Dec 29;26(1):117. doi: 10.3390/molecules26010117.


Multifunctional Bi- and Fe-modified carbon xerogel composites (CXBiFe), with different Fe concentrations, were obtained by a resorcinol-formaldehyde sol-gel method, followed by drying in ambient conditions and pyrolysis treatment. The morphological and structural characterization performed by X-ray diffraction (XRD), Raman spectroscopy, N2 adsorption/desorption porosimetry, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and scanning/transmission electron microscopy (STEM) analyses, indicates the formation of carbon-based nanocomposites with integrated Bi and Fe oxide nanoparticles. At higher Fe concentrations, Bi-Fe-O interactions lead to the formation of hybrid nanostructures and off-stoichiometric Bi2Fe4O9 mullite-like structures together with an excess of iron oxide nanoparticles. To examine the effect of the Fe content on the electrochemical performance of the CXBiFe composites, the obtained powders were initially dispersed in a chitosan solution and applied on the surface of glassy carbon electrodes. Then, the multifunctional character of the CXBiFe systems is assessed by involving the obtained modified electrodes for the detection of different analytes, such as biomarkers (hydrogen peroxide) and heavy metal ions (i.e., Pb2+). The achieved results indicate a drop in the detection limit for H2O2 as Fe content increases. Even though the current results suggest that the surface modifications of the Bi phase with Fe and O impurities lower Pb2+ detection efficiencies, Pb2+ sensing well below the admitted concentrations for drinkable water is also noticed.

Keywords: bismuth; carbon nanocomposites; electrochemical sensors; hybrid structures; hydrogen peroxide; iron; lead.

MeSH terms

  • Bismuth / chemistry*
  • Carbon / chemistry*
  • Electrochemical Techniques / instrumentation
  • Electrochemical Techniques / methods
  • Electrodes
  • Equipment Design
  • Gels / chemistry
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / analysis*
  • Iron / chemistry*
  • Lead / analysis*
  • Metals, Heavy / analysis
  • Nanostructures / chemistry*


  • Gels
  • Metals, Heavy
  • Lead
  • Carbon
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Iron
  • Bismuth