Infrared Microscopy as a Probe of Composition within a Model Biofuel Cell Electrode Prepared from Trametes versicolor Laccase

Ying Liang, Rong Cai, David P. Hickey, Jay P. Kitt, Joel M. Harris, Shelley D. Minteer, Carol Korzeniewski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Infrared microscopy was applied in the study of laccase biofuel cell electrodes that demonstrated high current and power densities traceable to the use of a low equivalent weight (EW), short side chain (Aquivion) ionomer in the catalyst layer. The electrodes were prepared from a biocatalyst ink composed of orientation-directing anthracene-modified multi-walled carbon nanotubes (An-MWCNTs) in a dispersion of ionomer exchanged by hydrophobic cations. The ink was applied to an electronically conductive carbon felt support that was hot-pressed to a Nafion-NRE 212 (51 μm thickness) membrane, forming the framework for an air-breathing biofuel cell cathode. Infrared microscopy sampling was performed with the use of a micro-attenuated total reflection probe that enabled spectra to be recorded from ∼32 μm diameter circular spatial regions on the materials investigated. Sensitivity to deformation of the soft polymer membrane-based materials was assessed through trial experiments on pure membrane samples before approaching the compositionally more complex biofuel cell electrodes. In studies of laccase cathodes, infrared spectral features of enzyme, buffer anions and surrounding An-MWCNTs were identified. Heterogeneity in the spatial distribution of components and unexpected bands traceable to insoluble copper salts were detected. The results suggest directions for improving electrode activity and bring to light needs for advancing quantitative interpretations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)818-826
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019


  • Biofuel cell
  • electrochemistry
  • enzyme immobilization
  • infrared spectroscopy
  • spectroelectrochemistry


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