Rate limited chemical reactions can be enhanced by improving the mass transport of the suspended analyte to the catalytic (or electrocatalytic) surface. While many attempts have been made to enhance this mass transport, these approaches are limited to utilizing only two enhancement methods – increasing available catalytic surface area, and increasing the flow of analyte in solution. Flow through high aspect ratio microstructures, however, would provide additional mass transport enhancement via boundary layer confinement. Platinum functionalized carbon nanotube microarray membranes (Pt-CNT-MMs) offer enhanced mass transport via all three methods, and were fabricated for demonstration in a H2O2 sample system, for which propulsion and chemical sensing applications were investigated. Propulsion testing of Pt-CNT-MM samples demonstrated thrust typically required for MUV propulsion, while achieving high H2O2 fuel utilization. Also, the proposed approach minimizes component exposure to the environment and is comprised of a simple, static architecture relative to other micro-propulsion systems. Moreover, it was shown that additional thrust is attainable by further enhancing the introductory rate of the H2O2 fuel to the Pt-CNT-MMs, which would effectively increase the locomotive capability of this propulsion system. Pt-CNT-MMs used for chemical sensing of H2O2 likewise demonstrated favorable performance. Initial studies revealed that the molar flux achieved for a Pt-CNT-MM sample in a through-flow environment (50 [µL s-1]) was approximately a ten-fold increase over that achieved in a stirred environment (150 [rpm]). This ten-fold increase in molar flux can be attributed to both an increase in exposed electrocatalytic surface area, as well as increase in boundary layer confinement. Furthermore, comparison of sensed molar flux to calculated molar flux for through-flow conditions revealed that Pt-CNT-MMs can achieve near-complete H2O2 oxidation within the flowrate range studied. Additionally, chronoamperometric testing of a Pt-CNT-MM sample demonstrated a sensitivity toward H2O2 of 9.18 [mA mM-1 cm-2], over one hundred times that of the GluOx/Pt-SWCNT/PAA structures referenced herein (0.0724 [mA mM-1 cm-2]).1 These findings suggest that mass transport enhancement, achieved by Pt-CNT-MMs applied in through-flow environments, heightens the performance achieved in rate-limited chemical reactions. Specifically, Pt-CNT-MMs demonstrate high fuel utilization in H2O2 based propulsion applications, as well as offer a highly sensitive preliminary structures for non-invasive glucose sensing.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Mechanical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





carbon nanotube, hydrogen peroxide, platinum, nanoparticle, microchannel