The electron transfer dynamics and electrocatalytic behaviour of ferrocene-terminated
self-assembled monolayers (SAMs), co-adsorbed with single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs)
on a gold electrode, have been interrogated for the first time. Ferrocene monocarboxylic acid
(FMCA) or ferrocene dicarboxylic acid (FDCA) was covalently attached to the cysteamine (Cys) monolayer to form Au-Cys-FMCA and Au-Cys-FDCA, respectively. The same covalent attachment strategy was used to form the mixed SWCNTs and ferrocene-terminated layers (i.e. Au-Cys-SWCNT/FMCA and Au-Cys-SWCNT/FDCA). Using cyclic voltammetry and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, the impact of neighbouring SWCNTs on the electron transfer dynamics of the ferrocene molecular assemblies in an acidic medium (0.5 M H2SO4) and in a solution of an outer-sphere redox probe ([Fe(CN)6]4 /[Fe(CN)6]3) was explored. The electron transfer rate constants in both media essentially decreased as Au-Cys-FMCA 4 Au-Cys-SWCNT/FDCA 4 Au-Cys-FDCA 4 Au-Cys-SWCNT/FMCA. This trend has been interpreted in terms of several factors such as the locations of the ferrocene species in a range of environments with a range of potentials, the proximity/interactions of the ferrocenes with one
another, and electrostatic interaction or repulsion existing between the negatively-charged redox probe and the modified electrodes. The thiocyanate ion (SCN ) was used as a model analyte to examine the influence of the neighbouring SWCNTs on the electrocatalytic ability of the ferrocene assemblies. The Au-Cys-SWCNT/FDCA showed the best catalytic activity (in terms of onset potential and catalytic peak current height) for the oxidation of SCN, possibly due to the repulsive interactions between the negatively charged SCN and high number of surface –COOH species at the SWCNT/FDCA. This study has provided some useful insights as to how CNTs co-assembled with ferrocene-terminated thiols could impact on the electron transfer kinetics as well as the electrocatalytic detection of the self-assembled ferrocene layers.