Title of the PhD project: Structured architectures of boron doped diamond for neuroscience

Research group: UNESCO Laboratory of Environmental Electrochemistry

Leader of the research group: Prof. RNDr. Jiří Barek, CSc. barek@natur.cuni.cz

Project leader: doc. RNDr. Karolina Schwarzová, Ph.D. karolina.schwarzova@natur.cuni.cz

Web pages of the research group: 




Project summary: 
Enlarging the electrode surface area has become a powerful approach to further improve the already outstanding properties of boron doped diamond (BDD) electrodes, without modifying their surface [1]. First studies have appeared showing that structuring of BDD surface enables growth of selected types of neurons which is otherwise hardly achievable on bare planar BDD films [2]. Typically, diamond surface has to be coated by a polymeric layer (poly-L-lysine, poly-D-lysine, laminin) to support growth, long-term adhesion and physiological responses of newborn and adult neurons. To achieve this on bare diamond is highly important, as growth of excitable neurons on uncoated BDD surfaces can enable a reduction in background noise and thus increase of sensitivity in recording of electric (i.e., changes in action potentials) and electrochemical (i.e., changes of concentration of neurotransmitters) signals. In our previous studies we have reported on fabrication of porous BDD electrodes and their electrochemical performance showing favourable analytical figures of merit for dopamine detection in comparison with conventional planar BDD films [3] and applicability of this material for electrochemical sensing in cell culture-mimicking media [4]. Further, this material proved satisfactory in growth and adhesion of adult neurons without polymer coating [2]. This success encourages further research aiming at development of strategies leading to structured architectures of BDD surfaces, applicable as BDD-based platforms for cell culturing and sensors to record their electrochemical activity and electric activity.

The following strategies will be employed for fabrication of structured BDD surfaces:

(i) BDD coverage of templates based on non-metallic nanoparticles: Carbon nanotubes, SiO2 nanofibers, SiO2 nanospheres and their combinations in different ratios will be used as templates for BDD coverage. 

(ii) BDD coverage of structured metallic substrates: Titanium and tungsten wires (diameter 20 - 80 μm) will be used for fabrication of BDD µprobes. For electrochemical recording, we aim to employ these BDD based µprobes positioned in close proximity to a firing neuron.

(iii) Application of an etching process on the planar diamond surface through various masks

For the above mentioned BDD materials optimization of fabrication procedure, complex morphologic, spectral and electrochemical characterization, and optimization of protocols for electrochemical detection of catecholamine and indolamine neurotransmitters and their metabolites in bio-mimicking and real media used in neuroscience will be performed. Fabrication of structured BDD platforms and studies on neuron growths will be performed in close cooperation with Institute of Physics and Institute of Physiology of the Czech Academy of Sciences ASCR.

Relevant publications of the project leader and others

[1] S. Baluchová, A. Daňhel, H. Dejmková, V. Ostatná, M. Fojta, K. Schwarzová-Pecková, Recent progress in the applications of boron doped diamond electrodes in electroanalysis of organic compounds and biomolecules – A review, Anal. Chim. Acta, 1077 (2019) 30-66.

[2] J. Krusek, I. Dittert, T. Smejkalova, M. Korinek, K. Gottfriedova, H. Freislebenova, E. Neuhoferova, L. Klimsa, S. Sedlakova, A. Taylor, V. Mortet, V. Petrak, V. Benson, V. Petrakova, Molecular functionalization of planar nanocrystalline and porous nanostructured diamond to form an interface with a newborn and adult neurons, Physica Status Solidi B-Basic Solid State Physics, 256 (2019) 1800424.

[3] S. Baluchová, A. Taylor, V. Mortet, S. Sedlaková, L. Klimša, J. Kopeček, O. Hák, K. Schwarzová-Pecková, Porous boron doped diamond films for dopamine sensing: Effect of boron doping level on morphology and electrochemical performance, Electrochim. Acta, 327 (2019) 135025.

[4] M. Brycht, S. Baluchová, A. Taylor, V. Mortet, S. Sedláková, L. Klimša, J. Kopeček, K. Schwarzová-Pecková, Comparison of electrochemical performance of various boron-doped diamond electrodes: Dopamine sensing in biomimicking media used for cell cultivation. Bioelectrochemistry 137 (2021), 107464.

Expected skills of the applicant:
MSc. or equivalent in Chemistry, material science or a related field (required); experience in electrochemistry, good knowledge of English. 

Source of financial support:
Czech Science Foundation (project GACR 20-03187S) and departmental sources

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