Nanoelectrochemistry of carbon

Jacob M. Goran, Keith J. Stevenson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Carbon materials have a rich history in electrochemistry, going back over 150 years. No other electrode material has such an expansive array of allotropes, structural polymorphisms, variations of synthetic procedures, or breadth of applications. The liberal use of carbon is due to its relative abundance (low cost), ease of functionalization, wide potential window, and biocompatibility compared to traditional noble metal electrode materials. Furthermore, the various allotropes and structural polymorphisms of carbon display vastly different physicochemical properties, with similar types being differentiated by pretreatment, source material, postsynthetic treatment, and even small deviations in material processing. Thus, tailored carbon electrodes can comprise various forms and properties for individualized applications. Advances in the synthesis, characterization, and separation of carbon materials have caused a surge of interest, largely due to the fact that many of these carbon forms are on the nanoscale. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and the 2D graphene are the two most important forms of nanoscale carbon materials, but material processing techniques are allowing more traditional forms such as graphite, carbon fibers (CFs), and pyrolyzed precursors to be configured to increasingly smaller profiles. Carbon thin films, such as pyrolyzed photoresist films (PPFs), are creating opportunities in spectroelectrochemistry, since the nanoscale dimensions of the film allow for optically transparent (OT) electrodes. The small size of nanocarbons and matching biocompatibility opens the door to a vast array of electroanalytical measurements in biological systems, including exocytosis of individual cells and subcellular systems. Herein, we highlight the recent uses of carbon in electrochemistry on the nanoscale. This review includes both nanoelectrodes that are derived from carbon materials and the electrochemical interactions of electroactive molecules with carbon surfaces at the nanoscale. In order to focus the enormous volume of research performed on carbon in electrochemistry, we have narrowed our scope to carbons in electroanalytical applications and nanocarbon electrodes. This excludes nanocarbons used in energy applications such as electrochemical capacitors, Li-ion batteries, catalysis, microbial fuel cells, and enzymatic fuel cells.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNanoelectrochemistry
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages63
ISBN (Electronic)9781466561229
ISBN (Print)9781466561199
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


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