Ultra-Wide-Range Electrochemical Sensing Using Continuous Electrospun Carbon Nanofibers with High Densities of States

Carbon-based sensors for wide-range electrochemical detection of redox-active chemical and biological molecules were fabricated by the electrospinning of polyacrylonitrile fibers directly onto a polyacrylonitrile-coated substrate followed by carbonization at 1200 °C. The resulting electrospun carbon nanofibers (ECNFs) were firmly attached to the substrate with good mesh integrity and had high densities of electronic states (DOS), which was achieved without need for further modifications or the use of any additives. The mass of ECNFs deposited, and thus the electroactive surface area (ESA) of the sensor, was adjusted by varying the electrospinning deposition time, thereby enabling the systematic manipulation of the dynamic range of the sensor. A standard redox probe (Fe­(CN)63–/4–) was used to demonstrate that the ECNF sensor exhibits strong electrocatalytic activity without current saturation at high analyte concentrations. Dopamine was used as a model analyte to evaluate the sensor performance; we find that the ECNF device exhibits a dynamic range ∼105 greater than that of many existing carbon-based sensors. The ECNF sensors exhibited excellent sensitivity, selectivity, stability, and reproducibility for dopamine detection.