Gold Nanoparticle Modified Carbon Fiber Microelectrodes for Enhanced Neurochemical Detection

This article has been accepted and is currently in production


For over 30 years, carbon-fiber microelectrodes (CFMEs) have been the standard for neurotransmitter detection. Generally, carbon fibers are aspirated into glass capillaries, pulled to a fine taper, and then sealed using an epoxy to create electrode materials that are used for fast scan cyclic voltammetry testing. The use of bare CFMEs has several limitations, though. First and foremost, the carbon fiber contains mostly basal plane carbon, which has a relatively low surface area and yields lower sensitivities than other nanomaterials. Furthermore, the graphitic carbon is limited by its temporal resolution, and its relatively low conductivity. Lastly, neurochemicals and macromolecules have been known to foul at the surface of carbon electrodes where they form non-conductive polymers that block further neurotransmitter adsorption. For this study, we modify CFMEs with gold nanoparticles to enhance neurochemical testing with fast scan cyclic voltammetry. Au3+ was electrodeposited or dipcoated from a colloidal solution onto the surface of CFMEs. Since gold is a stable and relatively inert metal, it is an ideal electrode material for analytical measurements of neurochemicals. Gold nanoparticle modified (AuNP-CFMEs) had a stability to dopamine response for over 4 h. Moreover, AuNP-CFMEs exhibit an increased sensitivity (higher peak oxidative current of the cyclic voltammograms) and faster electron transfer kinetics (lower ΔEP or peak separation) than bare unmodified CFMEs. The development of AuNP-CFMEs provides the creation of novel electrochemical sensors for detecting fast changes in dopamine concentration and other neurochemicals at lower limits of detection. This work has vast applications for the enhancement of neurochemical measurements. The generation of gold nanoparticle modified CFMEs will be vitally important for the development of novel electrode sensors to detect neurotransmitters in vivo in rodent and other models to study neurochemical effects of drug abuse, depression, stroke, ischemia, and other behavioral and disease states.