May 16, 2014. Agilent Technologies Inc. has introduced its AFM-enabled scanning electrochemical microscopy (SECM) mode, a seamlessly integrated technology package that enables scientists to perform scanning electrochemical microscopy on conductive and insulating samples. The system uses an Agilent atomic force microscope.
This unique mode of AFM operation allows scanning electrochemical microscopy to be performed quickly and reliably with nanoscale resolution. Agilent designed the SECM mode to deliver both ultimate performance and supreme ease of use. Hours of tedious setup time are eliminated, so data can be collected immediately.
The latest of many Agilent innovations in AFM-related electrochemistry, the new SECM mode provides great utility for a broad range of applications. These include investigations of homogeneous and heterogeneous electron transfer reactions, imaging of biologically active processes, surface modification, analysis of thin films (for example, pinhole detection, conformality), screening of catalytic material (for example, fuel cell catalysts), and studies of corrosion processes.
At the technological core of Agilent’s SECM mode is the novel EC SmartCart, an easy-to-handle cartridge that combines a nanoelectrode with a pre-mounted AFM tip. EC SmartCart probes come pre-tested and ready-to-scan for Agilent atomic force microscopes. A customized nose cone for the scanner accepts the cartridge. Produced via well-understood microfabrication techniques, the bifunctional probes ensure a constant and controlled distance between the tip-integrated electrode and the sample surface, significantly improving performance.
Agilent’s EC SmartCart probes enable high-resolution topographical imaging while simultaneously mapping electrochemical information via the AFM probe-integrated electrode. The probes uniquely provide researchers with inherently synchronized structure–activity information. SECM mode also offers scientists industry-leading in situ research capabilities. A state-of-the-art environmental chamber and special sample plates designed specifically for EC applications, as well as a new dual-chamber glove box that fits within an acoustic isolation chamber, enhance experimental control.
In addition, a built-in potentiostat affords researchers a series of different sensitivity settings covering four orders of magnitude of currents. Full-featured Agilent PicoView software further extends experimental flexibility and control plus functions for chronoamperometry and differential pulse voltammetry experiments, among others. Whether used in an academic or an industrial setting, Agilent’s new SECM mode can improve the vision of electrochemistry research at the nanoscale.