Evaluating diverse electrode surface patterns of 3D printed carbon thermoplastic electrochemical sensors

Analyst. 2024 Feb 26;149(5):1502-1508. doi: 10.1039/d3an01592k.

Abstract

Electrochemical sensing techniques rely on redox reactions taking place at the electrode surface. The configuration of this surface is of the utmost importance in the advancement of electrochemical sensors. The majority of previous electrode manufacturing methods, including 3D printing have produced electrodes with flat surfaces. There is a distinct potential for 3D printing to create intricate and distinctive electrode surface shapes. In the proposed work, 3D printed carbon black polylactic acid electrodes with nine different surface morphologies were made. These were compared to a flat surface electrode. To evaluate the performance of the electrodes, measurements were conducted in three different redox probes (ferrocene methanol, ferricyanide, and dopamine). Our findings highlighted that when electrodes were normalised for the geometric surface area of the electrode, the surface pattern of the electrode surface can impact the observed current and electron transfer kinetics. Electrodes that had a dome and flag pattern on the electrode surface showed the highest oxidation currents and had lower values for the difference between the anodic and cathodic peak current (ΔE). However, designs with rings had lower current values and higher ΔE values. These differences are most likely due to variations in the accessibility of conductive sites on the electrode surface due to the varying surface roughness of different patterned designs. Our findings highlight that when making electrodes using 3D printing, surface patterning of the electrode surface can be used as an effective approach to enhance the performance of the sensor for varying applications.