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Adopting Back Reduction Current as an Additional Output Signal for Achieving Photoelectrochemical Differentiated Detection

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journal contribution
posted on 14.01.2022, 21:14 by Daye Seo, Sunghwan Won, Ji Tae Kim, Taek Dong Chung
Photoelectrochemical (PEC) sensors are usually based on a single output signal, that is, the photocurrent change caused by the (photoelectro)­chemical reaction between target analytes and photoelectrodes. However, the photocurrent may be influenced by redox species other than the target analyte; therefore, modifying the surface of photoelectrodes with probes that selectively bind to the analyte is essential. Moreover, even though various surface modification methods have been developed, distinguishing molecularly similar chemicals using PEC sensing systems remains a significant challenge. To address these selectivity issues, we proposed a photoanode-based PEC sensor that utilizes a cathodic transient current as a second output signal in addition to the photocurrent, which arises from the back reduction of photo-oxidized species. Factors influencing the back reduction were investigated by observing the transient photocurrent of hematite photoanodes in the presence of model redox probes. The chemical environment around the electrode–electrolyte interface was manipulated by altering the electrolyte composition or modifying the electrode surface. The favorable interaction between the electrode surface and redox species led to an increase in the extent of back reduction and the cathodic transient current. In addition, the extent of back reduction also depends on the chemical identity of the redox species, such as the kinetics of subsequent chemical reactions. Therefore, the synergistic combination of the photocurrent and the cathodic transient current enabled the differentiated detection of various catecholamine neurotransmitters with a single pristine photoelectrode, which has never been achieved using traditional PEC methods. Revisiting the transient photocurrent can complement conventional PEC applications and offers possibilities for more effective semiconductor-based applications.

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