(420a) Designing Sol-Gel Materials for Biofuel Cells

Lim, J., UCLA
Malati, P., UCLA

The flexible solution chemistry of the sol-gel process has been used to synthesize bio-hybrid materials in which a wide variety of biomolecules are encapsulated in a transparent, inorganic matrix. It is now well established that the dopant biomolecules retain their characteristic reactivities and spectroscopic properties despite being immobilized in the pores of the inorganic matrix. Stability of the biomolecules is also improved because of the confinement in the rigid inorganic network. Sol-gel immobilization serves as the basis for the electrode architecture used in enzymatic biofuel cells. In this paper, we report the fabrication and characterization of an enzymatic glucose-oxygen biofuel cell that incorporates nanostructured silica sol-gel/carbon nanotube composite electrodes. The design objective with these novel electrodes is to combine the benefits of sol-gel encapsulation with the use of carbon nanotubes which provide enhanced electronic conduction pathways and increase the effective surface area of the electrode. With this immobilization approach, the silica sol-gel is sufficiently porous that both glucose and oxygen have access to enzymes and yet provide a protective cage that preserves biological structure and function, offers long-term stability and perhaps enables operation at elevated temperatures.