National Research Council of Canada. NRC Biotechnology Research Institute
Microfabricated capillary electrophoresis (CE) chips with integrated electrochemical detection have been developed on glass substrates. An electroless deposition procedure was used to deposit a gold film directly onto the capillary outlet to provide high-sensitivity electrochemical detection for catechol and several nitroaromatic explosives. Scanning electron microscopy revealed that the electroless gold film contains nanoscopic gold aggregates (100−150 nm) with an average thickness of 79 nm. The electroless deposition procedure can be easily and routinely performed in any wet-chemistry laboratory, and electroless gold can be deposited onto complex and internal surfaces. Intimate coupling of electrochemical detection and CE chips obviates the need for a coupling mechanism or tedious alignment procedures. With nitroaromatic compounds as a working model, microchip capillary electrophoresis equipped with electroless gold has proven to provide high sensitivity and fast response times for sensor applications. The CE microchip system was capable of separation and determination of explosive compounds including TNT in less than 130 s with detection limits ranging from 24 to 36 μg/L, i.e., 4-fold enhancements in detection efficiency in comparison to thick-film technology.