Insights from industry

Multi-Channel Electrochemical Testing

Rob Sides, Product Manager at Princeton Applied Research, talks to AZoM about their new PARSTAT MC multi-channel electrochemical testing platform and the benefits it brings to the market.

Could you please provide a brief introduction to the industry that Princeton Applied Research works within and outline the key drivers?

Princeton Applied Research provides instrumentation for making electrochemical measurements. The combination of high-performance hardware, functional and easy-to-use software, and application-specific accessories provide our users with total solutions.

Key drivers for these industries are:

  1. Reputation and credibility in the market; we have 50+ years of design and support experience
  2. The range of currents that can be accurately measured from 10s of Amps to attoAmps –more than 15 orders of magnitude.
  3. Accuracy and range of EIS Measurements
  4. Flexible and Functional software for acquisition and analysis
  5. Modular design to evolve with a researchers needs.

Could you briefly explain the basic theory of how multi-channel electrochemical testing platforms work?

A potentiostat controls a voltage and measures the resulting current. A galvanostat controls a current and measures the resulting voltage. The PARSTAT MC functions as either.

In an example of battery research; a charge-discharge profile is applied to a sample under test. By measuring the resulting voltage or impedance we can determine how a new battery material or design will operate in consumer use case. Cell phone users as a specific example stress their batteries during streaming applications or downloading large files or searching for a signal, but also have long periods of stand-by mode. The expectation is that batteries will last for 2+ years and be charge every other night. Using this scenario a typical charge-discharge profile is established and we impose that onto a new battery material or design.

We can test batteries as they are used, but those tests take years. We also have advanced electrochemical impedance analysis and other techniques as early predictors of successful designs.

Using a multichannel potentiostat allows for high-throughput asynchronous testing to evaluate a large number of samples in a given experiment.

How does this differ from other techniques?

Alternative technology to a potentiostat may be:

A limited number of physical electrochemistry applications can be served by a power supply, such as used for electroplating applications, but the current/voltage response is often not recorded and that is a 2-electrode device not capable of a controlling potential versus a stable reference electrode.

Some energy storage applications can be served by battery cycler technology. These are popular in production environment. These are devices often not capable of electrochemical impedance spectroscopy over a wide frequency range; and may not be capable of both current control and voltage control modes.

Non-electrochemical means of studying corrosion – such as visual inspection or weight-loss – do not have the speed, accuracy or resolution of electrochemical measurements.

What are the major advantages of using your PARSTAT MC?

  • Range of experiments available
  • Accuracy
  • Robustness
  • Expandability
  • Support – before, during and after the sales process.

How is the PARSTAT MC unique?

An intelligently designed chassis allows for the installation of different models to tailor a solution to a researchers application and budget.

Each PMC channel has a data buffer to protect experiments from communication interruption.  With user-replaceable functional blocks the chassis should never have to leave your lab. Hot-swappable channels allow you to continue long-term testing as channels are added or removed.

The PMC channels are world-class in their native performance from dynamic current range, accuracy and bandwidth of EIS measurements; to voltage range of measurement and control.  Options are available for the extremes of measurement, but performance of our core channels sets us apart.

What are the primary applications?

This technology applies to the study of 1.)  energy-storage devices:  batteries, capacitors and fuel cells  2.)  physical electrochemistry:  sensors, nanotechnology, and kinetics  3.)  corrosion of bare metals, galvanic couples and coatings.

What industries primarily benefit from the PARSTAT MC?

  • Battery researchers and manufacturers – studying new materials and cell designs
  • Car Manufacturers – from corrosion to batteries for alternative energy
  • Oil and Gas – for corrosion of pipelines
  • Sensors - electrochemical and biomedical sensors

What are the main differences between the PARSTAT MC and the previous version?

  • Industry-leading impedance accuracy at 7 MHz
  • Industry-leading voltage and current measurement
  • Additional voltage measurement (“6TH-WIRE”) to for anode/cathode measurement and small stack testing for using both DC and EIS measurements.
  • Ability to add/remove channels in the users laboratory; data buffer protecting the experiment from a loss of communication; user-replaceable functional blocks….all engineered to minimize down time.
  • Ability to install different models of potentiostats into a single chassis; thus minimizing investment and footprint.

Are there any recent case studies that you are particularly proud of?

Employing our high polarization voltage, EIS accuracy, and 6th-WIRE technology of our new PMC-2000, we have been able to demonstrate EIS on a stack (serially connected) of 2 x 9-Volt batteries. This delivers 18V. Using 6th-WIRE and EIS we could determine which of the two batteries in the stack has the highest impedance; and therefore, predict which would fail first.

This is not possible without the unique features of the PARSTAT MC.

Where do you currently supply to? Are there plans to expand operations in the near future?

We have a true global footprint. Our equipment powers innovation in cutting-edge research at the top universities; support both large and start-ups commercial enterprises; and advance technology through collaborative research at government laboratories.

Our direct sales team in the USA, France/Germany/Benelux, China and India combine with an established network of distribution partners to reach our users – wherever they are.

How do you see your sector progressing over the next decade?

The research into Energy continues to outpace other applications. The focus on smaller, lighter, cheaper technology for portable power sources will continue over the next decade.

Corrosion of biomedical implants, steel from ethanol-based fuels, rebar from infrastructure are also high-growth areas….especially in the emerging countries.

Sensors based on electrochemistry – such as glucose monitoring or wearable devices – will continue to expand in the short-term.

Where can our readers learn more about the products Princeton Applied Research offer?

The best resource for both product and technical information is through our website at http://www.princetonappliedresearch.com

There you can find information including contact information of our local partner in your area.  Additionally you can write any questions to [email protected] or directly to the Product Manager at [email protected]

About Rob Sides

Rob Sides is the Product Manager at Ametek responsible for single-channel and multichannel potentiostats, including the new PARSTAT MC. Rob completed his BS in Chemistry from Clemson University in 2000 and PhD in Chemistry from University of Florida in 2005. Since 2005, Rob has been in the potentiostat industry and focussed on providing users the tools and support to make industry-leading electrochemical measurements.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited (T/A) AZoNetwork, the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and Conditions of use of this website.

Stuart Milne

Written by

Stuart Milne

Stuart graduated from the University of Wales, Institute Cardiff with a first-class honours degree in Industrial Product Design. After working on a start-up company involved in LED Lighting solutions, Stuart decided to take an opportunity with AZoNetwork. Over the past five years at AZoNetwork, Stuart has been involved in developing an industry leading range of products, enhancing client experience and improving internal systems designed to deliver significant value for clients hard earned marketing dollars. In his spare time Stuart likes to continue his love for art and design by creating art work and continuing his love for sketching. In the future Stuart, would like to continue his love for travel and explore new and exciting places.

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