Transient photoresponse of nitrogen-doped ultrananocrystalline diamond electrodes in saline solution

Arman Ahnood, Alexandr Simonov, Jamie Stuart Laird, Matias I. Maturana, Kumaravelu Ganesan, Alastair Stacey, Michael R. Ibbotson, Leone Spiccia, Steven Prawer

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Beyond conventional electrically-driven neuronal stimulation methods, there is a growing interest in optically-driven approaches. In recent years, nitrogen-doped ultrananocrystalline diamond (N-UNCD) has emerged as a strong material candidate for use in electrically-driven stimulation electrodes. This work investigates the electrochemical activity of N-UNCD in response to pulsed illumination, to assess its potential for use as an optically-driven stimulation electrode. Whilst N-UNCD in the as-grown state exhibits a weak photoresponse, the oxygen plasma treated film exhibits two orders of magnitude enhancement in its sub-bandgap open circuit photovoltage response. The enhancement is attributed to the formation of a dense network of oxygen-terminated diamond nanocrystals at the N-UNCD surface. Electrically connected to the N-UNCD bulk via sub-surface graphitic grain boundaries, these diamond nanocrystals introduce a semiconducting barrier between the sub-surface graphitic semimetal and the electrolyte solution, leading to a photovoltage under irradiation with wavelengths of λ = 450 nm and shorter. Within the safe optical exposure limit of 2 mW mm-2, charge injection capacity of 0.01 mC cm-2 is achieved using a 15 × 15 μm electrode, meeting the requirements for extracellular and intercellular stimulation. The nanoscale nature of processes presented here along with the diamond's biocompatibility and biostability open an avenue for the use of oxygen treated N-UNCD as optically driven stimulating electrodes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104103
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalApplied Physics Letters
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2016

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