A single carbon fiber microelectrode with branching carbon nanotubes for bioelectrochemical processes

Xueyan Zhao, Xin Lu, William T.Y. Tze, Ping Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Carbon fiber electrodes are greatly promising for microelectronic applications including high performance biosensors, miniaturized transmitters, and energy storage and generation devices. For biosensor applications, one drawback of using carbon fiber microelectrodes, especially single fiber electrodes, is the weak electronic signals, a consequence of low surface area of fibers, which ultimately limit the sensitivity of the sensors. In this paper, we report a novel single fiber microelectrode with branched carbon nanotubes for enhanced sensing performance. The fiber microelectrode was prepared from carbonization of cellulose fibers. Upon introduction of carbon nanotubes, the carbon fibers exhibited a significant increase in the specific surface area from <10 to 36.4m2/g (determined by the BET method). A single fiber electrode with such a hierarchical structure was examined for redox reactions of coenzyme NAD(H) which is useful to mediate the assays and transformations of a broad range of biochemicals. Experimental results showed that carbon nanotubes enhanced the redox reactions on surfaces of the electrode by reducing the oxidation potential of NAD(H) from 0.8 to 0.55V. The single carbon fiber with branched nanotubes was also examined for the detection of glycerol, and the results showed linear responding signals in a concentration range of 40-250μM. These results are comparable to the properties of fossil-based carbon materials, and thus our cellulose-based carbon electrodes provide a potentially sustainable alternative in bioelectrochemical applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2343-2350
Number of pages8
JournalBiosensors and Bioelectronics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jun 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the University of Minnesota Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE) Program and the Biocatalysis Seed Grant from the Biotechnology Institute for financial supports.


  • Carbon fiber microelectrode
  • Carbon nanotubes modified electrode
  • Glycerol dehydrogenase detection
  • Glycerol oxidation
  • NADH oxidation


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