Polymer pencil leads as a porous nanocomposite graphite material for electrochemical applications: The impact of chemical and thermal treatments


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Year of publication 2021
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Electrochemistry Communications
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Web https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1388248121001028
Doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.elecom.2021.107018
Keywords Polymer pencil graphite electrode; Nanocomposite; Microporous electrodes; Siloxanes; Redox processes in chlorides
Description Pencil graphite electrodes are a simple, disposable, and low-cost alternative to screen-printed graphite electrodes. In terms of stability and sensitivity, pencil electrodes often outperform conventional carbon ones. This paper discusses and emphasizes the superior properties of polymer pencil graphite electrodes (pPeGEs), which can be exploited in the electrochemical analysis of molecules, such as chlorides, whose signals are missing on common graphite electrodes. The chemical and structural behaviour of pencil leads after exposure to acids (HF, HNO3, HClO4) or organic solvents (CH3CN, CH3Cl) was monitored via X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The electrochemical activity of pristine and treated pPeGEs was studied by the cyclic voltammetry (CV) responses of reversible redox probes [Fe(CN)6]3-/4- and [Ru(NH3)6]3+/2+. XPS proved the presence of siloxanes in the surface matrix of the pencil leads; this finding relates to the hydrophobic surface character of the electrodes. SEM then provided images of the pencil surfaces with microplates and flakes and revealed the removal of siloxanes upon chemical treatment. The CVs of non-dried and dried pPeGEs displayed surface changes in the polymer matrix, accompanied by water loss. Our study shows that the pPeGE retains the character of a stable graphite sensor when exposed to acids and organic solvents, except for HF and chloroform. The discovered effects explain the electrochemical processes occurring on pPeGEs and can contribute to their application in electrochemical sensing and energy storage.
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