Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Mechanical Engineering

Degree Program

Mechanical Engineering, PhD

Committee Chair

Keynton, Robert S.


Remote sensing


Most quantitative analytical measurement techniques require calibration to correlate signal with the quantity of analyte. The purpose of this study was to employ exhaustive coulometry, an implementation of coulometric analysis in a stopped-flow, fixed-volume, thin-layer cell, to attain calibration-free measurements that would directly benefit intervention-free analysis systems designed for remote deployment. This technique capitalizes on the short diffusion lengths (< 100 µm) to dramatically reduce the time for analysis (< 30 sec). For this work, a thin-layer fluidic cell was designed in software, fabricated via CNC machining, and evaluated using Ferri/Ferrocyanide {Fe(CN)63-/4-} as a model analyte. The 2 µL fixed volume incorporated an oval, 8mm by 4 mm, thin-film gold electrode sensor with an integrated Ag|AgCl pseudo-reference electrode. The flow cell area matched the shape of the sensor, with a volume set by the thickness of a laser-cut silicone rubber gasket (~80 µm). A semi-permeable membrane isolated the working electrode and counter electrode chambers to prevent analyte diffusion. A miniaturized custom potentiostat was designed and built to measure reaction currents ranging from 10 mA to 0.1 nA. Software was developed to perform step voltammetry as well as cyclic voltammetry analysis for verifying electrode condition and optimal redox potential levels. Experimentally determined oxidation/reduction potentials of -100 mV and 400 mV, respectively, were applied to the working electrode for sample concentrations ranging from 50 µM to 10,000 µM. The current generated during the reactions was recorded and the total charge captured at each concentration was obtained by integrating the amperograms. When compared to the expected charge for a 2 µL sample, the total charge vs. concentration plots displayed a near perfect linearity over the full concentration range, and the expected charge (100 % converted) was reached within 20 seconds. The reaction currents ideally should have decayed to background levels, but exhibited constant offset values slightly larger than the background signal, a phenomenon assumed to be lingering residual flow from sample injection. After adding rigid tubing and external valves, the thin-layer cell was shown to remain within 6% of the theoretical charge after 200 seconds. Continued development of this system will offer the possibility of remote, calibration-free determinations of real-world analytes such mercury and lead.