Intrinsic electrochemical activity of single walled carbon nanotube-Nafion assemblies

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Snowden, Michael E. ; Edwards, Martin A. ; Rudd, Nicola C. ; Macpherson, Julie. V. ; Unwin, Patrick R. (2013)

The intrinsic electrochemical properties and activity of single walled carbon nanotube (SWNT) network electrodes modified by a drop-cast Nafion film have been determined using the one electron oxidation of ferrocene trimethyl ammonium (FcTMA+) as a model redox probe in the Nafion film. Facilitated by the very low transport coefficient of FcTMA+ in Nafion (apparent diffusion coefficient of 1.8 × 10−10 cm2 s−1), SWNTs in the 2-D network behave as individual elements, at short (practical) times, each with their own characteristic diffusion, independent of neighbouring sites, and the response is diagnostic of the proportion of SWNTs active in the composite. Data are analysed using candidate models for cases where: (i) electron transfer events only occur at discrete sites along the sidewall (with a defect density typical of chemical vapour deposition SWNTs); (ii) all of the SWNTs in a network are active. The first case predicts currents that are much smaller than seen experimentally, indicating that significant portions of SWNTs are active in the SWNT–Nafion composite. However, the predictions for a fully active SWNT result in higher currents than seen experimentally, indicating that a fraction of SWNTs are not connected and/or that not all SWNTs are wetted completely by the Nafion film to provide full access of the redox mediator to the SWNT surface.
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