Until this work, there was little understanding of the role that carbon-oxygen surface functional groups (from the carbon electrode) played in Hb electroactivity. We examine Hb electroactivity of several carbons are examined through cyclic voltammetry and differential pulse voltammetry in a neutral phosphate buffered electrolyte. Carbon-oxygen surface functionalities were characterized using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), thermal programmed desorption (TPD) and attenuated total reflection Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR).
Our findings show that Hb electroactivity is inhibited by ether and carbonyl surface groups present on the carbon electrode. Using this information, a Hb-inactive carbon (Vulcan XC-72) was made active for Hb detection by removal of these surface groups (see figure). Ultrasonication removed the ether functionalities, resulting in a significant increase in the Hb electroreduction. The amount of reduction was increased further if the ultrasonication was followed by a relatively simple 15 minute electroreduction at -1.95 V vs. Hg/Hg2SO4 (saturated K2SO4) in stirred 10 mM phosphate electrolyte (pH 5.03) purged with N2. The electroreduction was shown to selectively remove the carbonyl and quinone functionalities, resulting in the increase Hb electroactivity.
The knowledge of carbon-oxygen surface functionalities is essential to better understand hemoglobin’s electroactivity on carbon and influences the choice of carbon electrode materials for further development of hemoglobin electrochemical biosensors.
Figure: Representative CVs (a) and DPVs (b) of glassy carbon (dotted green curve), ultrasonicated Vulcan XC-72 on glassy carbon (dashed purple curve) and ultrasonication+electrochemically reduced Vulcan XC-72 on glassy carbon (solid purple curve) in 0.1 M PB containing 0.2 g L-1 BHb from at least three replicate trials.