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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 16 (2011) pp 238-241

Development of Modified Carbon Electrodes with Conducting Polymer Grown Electrochemically Versus Sonogel Carbon Nanostructured Zirconium Dioxide to Detect Common Neurotransmitters-An Inquiry Based Lab

Miyong Hughes, Phuong Khanh Quoc Nguyen, Urmi Chaudhuri, Sarah Slate and Suzanne K. Lunsford*

Wright State University, Department of Chemistry, 3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy, Dayton, Ohio 45435,
Received May 26, 2011. Accepted September 13, 2011.

Published: 30 September 2011

Abstract. An undergraduate laboratory experiment for inorganic chemistry is described utilizing modified carbon electrodes with two different types of materials polymer [poly(2,2-bithophene)] versus nanostructured zirconium dioxide film. The monomer 2,2-bithiophene was grown electrochemically to a carbon electrode and compared to the fabricated sonogel carbon electrode coated with zirconium dioxide film for simultaneous detection of ascorbic acid, and catechol. The two different types of modified electrodes (polymer versus sonogel ZrO2 material) resolved the overlapped voltammetric responses of ascorbic acid and catechol into two well defined voltammetric peaks by cyclic voltammetry (CV). However, in terms of stability and duration of the electrode response to the catechol over time has been shown that the sonogel ZrO2 electrode was much more stable. This new modified carbon electrode coated with sol gel derived zirconium dioxide film on the top of graphite carbon electrode has displayed good electrocatalytic activity and reversibility in the redox process of catechol in acidic aqueous solution (0.1 M H2SO4), even in the presence of ascorbic acid (a common interferent). This lab has engaged students to learn new instrumentation such as SEM and novel lab skills while examining and problem-solving to determine the optimized electrode with the greatest stability to use to detect common neurotransmitters such as catechol.

Key Words: Laboratories and Demonstrations; inorganic chemistry; carbon electrode, cyclic voltammetry, catechol, ascorbic acid, inquiry-based lab, problem-based

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

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