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Cavity Carbon-Nanopipette Electrodes for Dopamine Detection

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journal contribution
posted on 27.02.2019, 00:00 by Cheng Yang, Keke Hu, Dengchao Wang, Yasmine Zubi, Scott T. Lee, Pumidech Puthongkham, Michael V. Mirkin, B. Jill Venton
Microelectrodes are typically used for neurotransmitter detection, but nanoelectrodes are not because there is a trade-off between spatial resolution and sensitivity that is dependent on surface area. Cavity carbon-nanopipette electrodes (CNPEs), with tip diameters of a few hundred nanometers, have been developed for nanoscale electrochemistry. Here, we characterize the electrochemical performance of CNPEs with fast-scan cyclic voltammetry (FSCV) for the first time. Dopamine detection using cavity CNPEs, with a depth equivalent to a few radii, is compared with that using open-tube CNPEs, an essentially infinite geometry. Open-tube CNPEs have very slow temporal responses that change over time as the liquid rises in the CNPE. However, a cavity CNPE has a fast temporal response to a bolus of dopamine that is not different from that of a traditional carbon-fiber microelectrode. Cavity CNPEs, with tip diameters of 200–400 nm, have high currents because the small cavity traps and increases the local dopamine concentration. The trapping also leads to an FSCV frequency-independent response and the appearance of cyclization peaks that are normally observed only with large concentrations of dopamine. CNPEs have high dopamine selectivity over ascorbic acid (AA) because of the repulsion of AA by the negative electric field at the holding potential and the irreversible redox reaction. In mouse-brain slices, cavity CNPEs detected exogenously applied dopamine, showing they do not clog in tissue. Thus, cavity CNPEs are promising neurochemical sensors that provide spatial resolution on the scale of hundreds of nanometers, which is useful for small model organisms or for locations near specific cells.