What do you need to start in electrochemistry?

If you are here you have probably been looking for information on electrochemistry for a while now. Probably, you have also seen the potential of electrochemistry for your research. However, you are not experienced in this field and are not sure about what you need to start in electrochemistry.

Don’t worry. At Macias Sensors we understand your situation and have prepared this post to help you out.

Looking for information on the internet regarding what is needed to set up an electrochemistry station can be overwhelming. If you look at electrochemistry research groups with years of experience you will find multiple instruments and accessories. Some of them may even be outdated and not used these days anymore. Others extremely expensive and for niche applications probably useless for you.

Where do you start?

Our advice: focus on your research project.

How to start in electrochemistry : Set the focus on your research project

Top tier research groups in electrochemistry did not start up with all the equipment they have today. And neither should you.

Each electrochemistry instrument has its own operational range. You don’t need the same equipment to develop a biosensor and to develop a battery.

The best way to choose the appropiate items is to be organized and ask the following questions:

  • Am I going to study a material, an electrochemical reaction or am I going to develop a device?
  • What is the potential range that I require?
  • How much current am I going to use?
  • What techniques do I need?
  • How many experiments do I need to run simultaneously?
  • Do I need special environmental conditions?

With the answers to these questions we can compare the technical specifications of the instruments available on the market and make an informed decision.

To help you out, we have selected the instrumentation that we would recommend for a first setup in 3 common research fields: biosensors, materials science and energy storage.

Entry equipment for biosensor development

The development of biosensors is a complex field. It requires a multidisciplinar approach. But in terms of electrochemical characterization it is, perhaps, the most economic to start with.

In general, biosensors require pretty basic instruments. The potentials applied are small, < 2V, and the currents developed are normally in the microampere range. However, their development often requires more advanced techniques such as pulsed voltammetry or impedance spectroscopy. For this reason, we recommend to start with a USB powered potentiostat like the SensitSmart or our Anapot.

Start in electrochemistry: biosensors

In terms of consumables, the best option is single use electrodes like SPEs or our PCB electrodes.

Finally, it is also necessary to have good data management. We recommend using Djuli, a cloud solution designed for electrochemistry. It allows storage, sharing and analysis of electrochemical data.

Entry equipment for electrochemical characterisation of materials

Start in electrochemistry: Materials

The electrochemical characterisation of materials is a very broad field. So for this post, we will focus on new materials for electrodes.

Since we are dealing with new materials, it is normally difficult to prepare them in a disposable cartridge or SPE. Therefore, it will be best to have a traditional electrochemical cell.

Since our lab will likely fabricate the electrode material, we will need 2 extra analytical electrodes. For this purpose we recommend:

  • Platinum electrode for the counter electrode
  • Ag/AgCl reference electrode

This setup is more costly than the one we recommend for biosensor research. However, the analytical electrodes and the electrochemical cell can be reused.

Finally, the potentiostat. Since the properties of the material are unknown, we would recommend to opt for a versatile potentiostat with a potential range of up to 5V. This type of equipment will be suitable to study materials for a range of applications including organic electrolytes, whose electrochemical window can reach 4.5 V. Our recommendation, for its price, performance and size, is the Anapot EIS.

Entry equipment for electrochemical energy storage development

The last research field that we will cover in this post is the development of electrochemical energy storage systems.

This field is dominated by two types of devices: batteries and supercapacitors.

When developing these devices higher end potentiostats are required. Due to their high energy density and the potentials at which they operate, the instruments must, at least, be able to supply > 1A and > 5 V. For this reason, we recommend a potentiostat like the Zahner Zennium X.

Start in electrochemistry: Energy Storage

Beyond supply specs, the instrument must also support the following measurement techniques:

  • Cyclic Voltammetry
  • Chronopotentiometry
  • Chronovoltametry
  • Open Circuit Potentiometry
  • Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy

Besides the equipment, it must be noted that in this field it is common to work with assembled devices. Therefore, if your lab will fabricate thedevices, you will require the consumables needed to assemble them, such as separator membranes and encapsulating electrodes and components.

We hope this post has helped you figure out what type of equipment and consumables is required for the fields of biosensing, materials science and energy storage. If you would like to learn more about electrochemistry and its application, check our blog. We have a lot of useful information on electrochemistry.

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