The electrochemical oxidation of guanine is studied in aqueous media at various carbon electrodes. Specifically edge plane pyrolytic graphite (EPPG), basal plane pyrolytic graphite (BPPG), and highly ordered pyrolytic graphite (HOPG) were used, and the voltammetry was found to vary significantly. In all cases, signals characteristic of adsorbed guanine were seen and the total charge passed varied from surface to surface in the order roughened BPPG > EPPG > BPPG > HOPG. It is of note that the peak height for the EPPG electrode is less than that found for roughened BPPG; furthermore, across the series of electrodes, there is a significant decrease in peak potential with increasing density of edge plane sites present at the electrode surface. This leads us to conclude that there are two dominating and controlling factors present: (i) the density of basal plane sites on which guanine can adsorb and (ii) the density of edge plane sites necessary for the electro-oxidation of the analyte. This conclusion is corroborated through further experiments with multi- and single-walled carbon nanotubes. Adsorption was seen to be enhanced by modification of the EPPG surface with alumina particles, and as such, increased peak signals were observed in their presence. It is further reported that via the pre-adsorption of acetone onto the graphite surface that the adsorption of guanine may be blocked, resulting in a diffusional voltammetric signal. This diffusional response has been successfully modeled and gives insight into the complex -4e(-), -4H(+) oxidation mechanism; specifically, it enables explanation of the observed change in rate-determining step with scan rate. The oxidation of guanine first proceeds via a two-electron oxidation followed by a chemical step to form 8-oxoguanine, then 8-oxoguanine is then further oxidized to form nonelectroactive products. The change is mechanism is attributed to the variation in potential of the first and second electron transfer with scan rate.
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