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3D Printed Carbon Electrodes

Millikin University boasts of a student who is using the wonders of 3D printing to create carbon electrodes essential to electrochemistry.

“Carbon electrodes are a key component of electrochemistry.  They are used for many electrochemical applications, ranging from investigating neurotransmitter movement in a brain to toxin detection in lake water.”

The traditional process of creating carbon electrodes via photolithography is expensive, but now “the research team of Dalton Glasco, a senior chemistry major at Millikin University, and Dr. Kyle Knust, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Millikin University” have turned to the wonders of additive manufacturing in order to produce carbon electrodes.

As Dr. Knust explains: “Dalton is working on an alternative fabrication route for preparing pyrolyzed carbon electrodes.  The goal is to prepare an electrode able to mimic glassy carbon, a material electrochemists like to use for a diversity of applications.”

Currently, “Glasco is using computer software to create carbon electrode designs, which are then 3-D printed directly onto quartz using a carbon rich resin.  The electrode is then transferred to a tube furnace and pyrolyzed – a process where material decomposition is heated to extreme temperatures.”

Dr. Knust elaborates: “it provides a lower cost, more accessible route to preparing a customizable glassy carbon-type electrode.  Instead of requiring a cleanroom and the infrastructure in the cleanroom, techniques like photolithography with a desktop 3-D printer – such as ours, and a tube furnace, you can prepare these electrodes yourself.”

Glasco used a $3,500 3D printer, while “a Class 1000 cleanroom can easily exceed $100,000.”

This research is so groundbreaking the team “received an invitation from the editor of ChemElectroChem, a top-ranking electrochemistry journal for primary research papers and critical secondary information, to submit a manuscript on their carbon electrode 3D printing research.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Millikin University

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