Eco Chemie Autolab Potentiostat with Low Current Module
“It was quite a dire situation,” says Alison. “If I’d been left with no instrumentation, my research would have ground to a complete halt. I can’t think how we could have bought a new instrument without the MacDiarmid funding.”
In 2003 they bought a new potentiostat with an impedance analyser and high current module. “But we still had problems with too many people wanting to use it,” says Alison. With the recent funding round they were able to buy a second potentiostat to ease the load.
About the Instrument:
The Eco Chemie potentiostat is essentially a sophisticated power supply used to measure the electrochemistry at a surface. It applies voltage to induce redox reactions at the surface and accurately measures the current produced by them in the circuit.
The recent purchase also included an additional module for measuring low currents.
Alison’s group are using the potentiostat to attach layers of target molecules onto carbon and metal surfaces with the aim of preparing materials with controlled surface properties for applications such as biological sensors.
“We use it as a method of generating reactive species,” Alison explains. “By reducing a species in solution you can make it directly react with the surface and attach to it.”
“We also use it to analyse the surfaces electrochemically. The potentiostat gives us information about how much material is on the surface, of which kind and what the packing structure is.”
The new low current capability has also given rise to new research possibilities. It allows researchers to measure the electrochemical properties of tiny microstructures and surfaces with very small amounts of electro-active material on them. Alison’s group is using it to measure very fast rate constants for electrons moving through layers of bio-active peptides on gold surfaces. “Measuring fast rates of electron transfer requires small electrodes,” Alison explains, “and small electrodes mean small currents.”
Alison is a great supporter of the MacDiarmid system of collaboration and sharing equipment.
“It just makes research so much more fun,” she says. “It’s made my work much more multi-disciplinary, which is attractive to students.”
The instrument is already being used by groups across the University of Canterbury for a wide variety of applications from super-capacitors to small novel materials. Alison has recently formed a collaboration with a small nanotechnology company called IZON who are developing nanopores for analysing and controlling single molecules for medical applications. Her group are very happy to train new users to use the potentiostat, whether from inside or outside the Institute.