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Electrochemistry has an established place in medical research and clinical monitoring through instruments such as the blood gas monitor and the "glucose pen" for diabetes monitoring. However, in vivo measurements using microelectrodes implanted into tissue have remained problematical. In order to start to overcome these problems we have just begun to employ boron doped diamond (BDD) electrodes in studies of cartilage and disc tissue. (Industrial link: Diamond Detectors). This electrode material is highly biocompatible lending itself to biological studies and in vivo use.
Work has also been undertaken within the group to investigate the electrochemistry of zinc and steel in contact with ophthalmic solutions commonly used in surgery. This is in order to understand the mechanisms which lead to extensive ocular damage occurring when metal fragments enter the eye.
Ultra-microelectrodes can also be used on cells and tissue cultures in vitro. They offer very high temporal resolution and, particularly in approaches such as scanning electrochemical microscopy, allow micron scale spatial resolution. We are currently working to exploit these advantages to study metabolism at the cellular level.
In collaboration with the Quantum Systems and Nanomaterials group, we have started to explore the potential applications of graphene as a biological sensor platform.