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  • Organic contamination of highly oriented pyrolytic graphite as studied by scanning electrochemical microscopy.

Organic contamination of highly oriented pyrolytic graphite as studied by scanning electrochemical microscopy.

Analytical chemistry (2015-04-07)
Nikoloz Nioradze, Ran Chen, Niraja Kurapati, Anastasia Khvataeva-Domanov, Stéphane Mabic, Shigeru Amemiya
ABSTRACT

Highly oriented pyrolytic graphite (HOPG) is an important electrode material as a structural model of graphitic nanocarbons such as graphene and carbon nanotubes. Here, we apply scanning electrochemical microscopy (SECM) to demonstrate quantitatively that the electroactivity of the HOPG basal surface can be significantly lowered by the adsorption of adventitious organic impurities from both ultrapure water and ambient air. An SECM approach curve of (ferrocenylmethyl)trimethylammonium (FcTMA(+)) shows the higher electrochemical reactivity of the HOPG surface as the aqueous concentration of organic impurities, i.e., total organic carbon (TOC), is decreased from ∼20 to ∼1 ppb. SECM-based nanogap voltammetry in ∼1 ppb-TOC water yields unprecedentedly high standard electron-transfer rate constants, k(0), of ≥17 and ≥13 cm/s for the oxidation and reduction of the FcTMA(2+/+) couple, respectively, at the respective tip-HOPG distances of 36 and 45 nm. Anomalously, k(0) values and nanogap widths are different between the oxidation and reduction of the same redox couple at the same tip position, which is ascribed to the presence of an airborne contaminant layer on the HOPG surface in the noncontaminating water. This hydrophobic layer is more permeable to FcTMA(+) with less charge than its oxidized form so that the oxidation of FcTMA(+) at the HOPG surface results in the higher tip current and, subsequently, apparently narrower gap and higher k(0). Mechanistically, we propose that HOPG adsorbs organic impurities mainly from ambient air and then additionally from ∼20 ppb-TOC water. The latter tightens a monolayer of airborne contaminants to yield lower permeability.

MATERIALS
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Product Description

Milli-Q
A10® TOC Monitor, suitable for water monitoring