A group of researchers from Harbin Institute of Technology has recently found an inexpensive and non-enzymatic electrochemical sensor that exhibits good selectivity, high sensitivity, stability, and reproducibility, which has potential use in detecting phenol in discharged wastewater.
Results of the new discovery were detailed in a paper and published in journal NANO. Phenol is one of the commonly found organic contaminants in wastewater across the globe and it is necessary to monitor to control phenol pollutants as a part of controlling environmental pollutants.
According to the researchers, electronic sensor has potential application in phenol detection because of its unique superiority including fast response, real-monitoring, portability, convenience for handling, affordable, and requires low maintenance. The electrochemical sensor contains electrode material that plays an important role in improving the performance of phenol-sensing by accelerating electron-oxidation current of phenol.
The researchers said that it is important to select effective electrode material with good selectivity, high sensitivity, and stability for electrochemical detection of phenol. Nickel, the transition metal has been widely used for electrocatalyzing organic substances, owing to its abundant reserves and superior catalytic activity. However, due to high specific surface energy, nanoparticle of the metal tend to aggregate, resulting into reduced active sites and loss of catalytic activity.
To prevent Ni nanoparticle from aggregation, researchers used Multi-walled carbon nanotube (MWCNT) as a scaffold to anchor the nanoparticles. MWCNT has unique 1D structure as well as excellent electrical and mechanical properties that accelerate the rate of electro transfer and improve phenol-sensing performance.
The researchers have confirmed that the Ni/MWCNT-based electrochemical sensor has promising application for fast detection of phenol in discharged wastewater. The research team in Harbin Institute of Technology is now implementing innovative strategies to further enhance phenol-sensing performance in terms of detection limit, detection range, sensitivity, and cost of the sensor.
The additional co-authors of the study paper are Jiankang Wang, Taiping Xie, Zhaohua Jiang, Yajing Wang, Chenyu Liu, and Qihuang Deng.