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Nanoscale 2014, 6(13), 7391-7396

Magnetic control of electrochemical processes at electrode surface using iron-rich graphene materials with dual functionality

Metal-doped graphene hybrid materials demonstrate promising capabilities in catalysis and various sensing applications. There also exists great interest for on-demand control of the selectivity of many electrochemical processes. In this work, an iron-doped thermally reduced graphene oxide (Fe-TRGO) was prepared and used to investigate the possibility of a reproducible, magnetically controlled method to modulate electrochemical reactivities through a scalable method. We made use of the presence of both magnetic and electrocatalytic properties in the Fe-TRGOs to induce attraction and removal of the Fe-TRGO material onto and off the working electrode surfaces magnetically, thereby controlling the electrochemical oxidation and reduction processes. The outstanding electrochemical performance of the Fe-TRGO material was evident, with enhanced current signals and lower peak potentials observed upon magnetic activation. Reversible and reproducible cycles of activation and deactivation were obtained as the peak heights and peak potentials remained relatively consistent with no apparent carryover between every step. Both components of Fe-TRGO play an electrocatalytic role in the electrochemical sensing. In the cases of the oxygen reduction reaction and reduction of cumene hydroperoxide, the iron oxide plays the role of an electrocatalyst, while in the cases of ascorbic acid, the enhanced electroactivity originates from the high surface area of the graphene portion in the Fe-TRGO hybrid material. The feasibility of this magnetically switchable method for on-demand sensing and energy production thus brings about potential developments for future electrochemical applications.

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