Electrified Interfaces and the Role they Play in Analytical Chemistry

Nanotechnology and materials science are two sides of the same coin. In materials science, properties at the macroscale are determined by nanoscale structure – and the field increasingly concerns itself with elucidating the precise nature of the relationship between behavior at different scales. In nanotechnology, the behavior of functional nanoscale objects such as quantum dots, graphene, and so on depends inexorably on the properties of the materials from which they are made and the manner in which these properties vary depending on scale.

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Both nanotechnology and materials science are fundamentally “interdisciplinary”: the behavior of nanoscale devices and materials both arise from phenomena that fall into various subcategories of physics, chemistry, biology, and electronics. The technologies enabled by materials science and nanotechnology are increasingly prevalent worldwide in a huge range of applications, from energy storage to medical diagnostics. The two fields also share an increasing set of tools and analytical techniques, such as spectroscopic and electrochemical methods.

As one of the biggest analytical chemistry conferences in the world, Pittcon recognizes the value of interdisciplinary collaboration in science. The Nanotechnology and Materials Science track at this year’s Pittcon exemplifies this collaborative spirit: Pittcon will be host to some of the world’s foremost experts in nanotechnology and materials science, who will be showcasing their cutting-edge research that lies at the intersection between scientific fields.

The Electrochemistry of Interfaces

While the kinetics of chemical species in bulk electrolytes can generally be well-defined, the same is not true of the dynamics at play at the interfaces between electrolyte and electrode.1–3 Conditions at these “electrified interfaces” is typically extremely complex and disordered – and attempts to model them atomistically have proven extremely difficult and computationally intensive.4

Nonetheless, such electrified interfaces are ubiquitous both in nature and technology. Even the cell wall of a bacterium – the site of countless electron-transport processes – can be characterized as an electrified interface.5 As such, developing ways to better characterize and measure the behavior of these interfaces has a particularly broad set of applications, ranging from the detection of individual molecules to the characterization of bacteria to the development of new energy-storage media.

 At Pittcon, the fascinating world of electrified interfaces will be explored in the symposium Harnessing Chemistry at Electrified Interfaces for Advances in Chemical Analysis and Sensing. Led by Texas Tech University’s Carol Korzeniewski, this symposium will explore the myriad ways in which electrified interfaces are being exploited and studied throughout a range of different fields.

Presenters will explore how in situ spectroscopy is being combined with nanoscale imaging to improve society’s fundamental understanding of how electrified interfaces behave. Researchers will also touch upon how these interfaces are being harnessed for applications in sensing and chemical analysis: this includes the detection of microscale analytes – such as individual bacteria – by measuring their electrochemical properties; and the measurement of nanoscale analytes by detecting the step-like impedance changes that occur when such analytes bind to electrodes.6,7

Exploring Nanomedicine

Medical science is a key application area of nanotechnology. The functionalization of nanomaterials such as graphene and nanoparticles enables us to interact with cellular and molecular biological systems with unprecedented precision in both diagnostic and therapeutic capacities. Areas including gene regulation, immunotherapy, drug screening, tissue engineering, and cellular analysis are among those which have benefitted from innovations in nanomedicine – and this innovation shows no signs of slowing down.8,9

Pittcon is excited to welcome Dr. Chad A Mirkin, Director of the International Institute for Nanotechnology and founding editor of the nanotech journal Small. Dr. Mirkin will be leading a seminar at the upcoming Pittcon entitled Nanotechnology Tools for Improving Medical Diagnostics and Therapeutics. In this session, a host of world-leading nanotechnology experts will be showcasing how nanoscale tools transform the biological and medical sciences, from drug delivery to analyte detection and imaging.

Exploring the Interdisciplinary at Pittcon

Pittcon is one of the world’s largest analytical chemistry conferences, and its technical programming is second to none. Over the course of the week, a range of researchers and industry experts will share their knowledge and insights in an environment of collaboration and education.

Alongside symposia such as those mentioned above, there will be a huge range of short courses available in everything from mass spectrometry to business planning, where analytical chemists at all stages of their careers will be able to get hands-on experience with a wide range of techniques directly from leading experts. A number of networking sessions will also be hosted, where attendees can meet and chat with other professionals in their fields. As always, the main expo will be home to a wide range of exhibitors showcasing the latest developments in research and innovation, enabling attendees to witness these state-of-the-art systems and technologies firsthand.

To find out more about Pittcon, visit the Pittcon website, or check out the Session Gallery to find out more about the talks and symposia on offer throughout the week.


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