Scanning tunneling microscopy and atomic force microscopy in the characterization of activated graphite electrodes
Sir: To date there have been many methods described to activate carbon electrodes, including electrochemical treatment (1-1 7), laser irradiation (18-21), radio-frequency (RF) plasma (22), and heat treatment (23-26). These methods were developed empirically, and only now is an understanding of parameters controlling surface activity beginning to emerge (20,27). Electrochemical treatment and laser irradiation are particularly attractive treatments because they are relatively inexpensive, are quick, and can be performed without removing the electrode from solution. Activation, common to these procedures, may be attributable to an increase in the exposed edge plane density, which has been associated with faster kinetics (14,20). Copper deposition in conjunction with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) has shown an increase in the density of localized defects on active surfaces (15); an increase in surface activity is associated with an increase in the density of the localized defects (15). Scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), phase detection microscopy, and SEM have also been used to study the effects of electrochemical treatment of highly oriented pyrolytic graphite (HOPG) (13) and glassy carbon (GC) (16,17). These studies have suggested an increase in surface roughness consistent with an increase in the density of exposed edge planes.
Reprinted (adapted) with permission from Scanning tunneling microscopy and atomic force microscopy in the characterization of activated graphite electrodes. Michael S. Freund, Anna Brajter-Toth, Therese M. Cotton, and Eric R. Henderson. Analytical Chemistry 1991 63 (10), 1047-1049. DOI: 10.1021/ac00010a023. Copyright 1991 American Chemical Society.