Pt/Polypyrrole Quasi-References Revisited: Robustness and Application in Electrochemical Energy Storage Research

Dipobrato Sarbapalli, Abhiroop Mishra, Joaquín Rodríguez-López

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Choosing reference electrodes for nonaqueous electrochemical measurements, especially in energy storage research, is challenging due to lengthy experiments (>1 day), the lack of alternatives to the commonly used Ag/Ag+reference electrode (RE), the introduction of junction potentials, and the possibility of sample contamination. Often, quasi-reference electrodes (QREs) such as Ag wires and Li metal strips are used. However, small changes in electrolyte composition can cause large potential drifts, and their surfaces may be reactive to the solution. Here, we propose an alternative QRE based on polypyrrole electrodeposited on Pt wire (PPyQRE) encased in a glass tube with the open end sealed with commercial frits. While freestanding PPyQRE wires have been reported in the literature, simple encasing of the PPyQRE overcomes the above-mentioned drawbacks of QREs while providing a reliable reference potential that is closer to the performance of an RE. During cyclic voltammetric and bulk electrolysis testing of a redox mediator in solution, the encased PPyQRE exhibited stable reference potentials over multiple charge/discharge cycles with minimal drift (∼5 mV) after ∼2.25 days of operation. We also tested the reliability of our reference during the testing of multilayer graphene Li-ion anodes, which often involve cycling samples at highly reducing potentials (<−3 V vs Fc/Fc+) over long durations (>1 day). In the same testing conditions, the Ag/Ag+electrode led to observable Ag deposits on the graphene and large potential drifts (∼50 mV), while the PPyQRE exhibited no measurable drift and revealed changes in voltammetric features that were obscured by reference drift when using Ag/Ag+. Minor reference drifts of ∼30 mV over long usage of the PPyQRE (∼2 months) can be addressed by calibration with a ferrocene couple at the end of experiments. These results highlight the advantages of using an encased PPyQRE as a simple and practical reference electrode for electrochemical measurements in the field of nonaqueous energy storage research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14048-14052
Number of pages5
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number42
StatePublished - Oct 26 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry

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