Cumba LR, Camisasca A, Giordani S, Forster RJ.
The properties of carbon nano-onions (CNOs) make them attractive electrode materials/additives for the development of low-cost, simple to use and highly sensitive Screen Printed Electrodes (SPEs). Here, we report the development of the first CNO-based ink for the fabrication of low-cost and disposable electrodes, leading to high-performance sensors. Achieving a true dispersion of CNOs is intrinsically challenging and a key aspect of the ink formulation. The screen-printing ink formulation is achieved by carefully selecting and optimising the conductive materials (graphite (GRT) and CNOs), the polymer binder, the organic solvent and the plasticiser. Our CNO/GRT-based screen-printed electrodes consist of an interconnected network of conducting carbon particles with a uniform distribution. Electrochemical studies show a heterogeneous electron transfer rate constant of 1.3 ± 0.7 × 10−3 cm·s−1 and a higher current density than the ferrocene/ferrocenium coupled to a commercial graphite SPEs. In addition, the CNO/GRT SPE can detect dopamine in the concentration range of 10.0–99.9 µM with a limit of detection of 0.92 µM (N = 3). They exhibit a higher analytical sensitivity than the commercial graphite-based SPE, with a 4-fold improvement observed. These results open up the possibility of using high-performing CNO-based SPEs for electrochemical applications including sensors, battery electrodes and electrocatalysis.