O-ethyl S-2-diisopropylaminoethyl methylphosphonothiolate (VX) and O-isobutyl-S-2-diethylaminoethyl methylphosphonothioate (R-VX), are considered chemical warfare agents due to their strong acetylcholinesterase-inhibiting properties. Subsequent to terrorist use of these V-type nerve agents in both Japan and the United States of America (the September 11, 2001 attacks) and the limited capability of anti-terrorist groups to detect such weapons, there has been an increased obligation by the Chemical Weapons Convection for specific detection and identification methods for VX and R-VX. Chemical and/or enzymatic hydrolysis yields sulfhydryl mimic products, diethylaminoethanethiol (DEAET) and dimethylaminoethanethiol (DMAET). This thesis investigates the electrocatalytic parameters of DEAET and DMAET using basal plane pyrolytic graphite electrodes (BPPGEs) modified with: (a) single-wall carbon nanotube (BPPGE-SWCNT); (b) SWCNT functionalised with cobalt (II) tetra-aminophthalocyanine by (i) physical (BPPGE-SWCNT-CoTAPc(mix)), (ii) chemical (BPPGE-SWCNT-CoTAPc(cov)) and (iii) electrochemical adsorption (BPPGE-SWCNT-CoTAPc(ads)) processes; (c) nickel powder (BPPGE-Ni); (d) BPPGE-Ni decorated with SWCNT (BPPGE-Ni-SWCNT), and (e) SWCNT functionalised with nickel (II) tetra-aminophthalocyanine (BPPGE-SWCNT-poly-NiTAPc). Electrochemical studies (performed by voltammetric and electrochemical impedance spectroscopic techniques) revealed that the SWCNT and SWCNT-CoTAPc(mix) films showed comparable electrocatalytic responses towards the detection of DEAET and DMAET whereas competitive electrochemical behaviour was seen between SWCNT and SWCNT-NiTAPc modified BPPGEs. Using the BPPGE-SWCNT-CoTAPc(mix), the estimated catalytic rate constants (k) and diffusion coefficients (D) were higher for DEAET than for the DMAET. Also, the detection limits of approximately 8.0 and 3.0µM for DMAET and DEAET were obtained with sensitivities of 5.0×10−2 and 6.0×10−2 AM−1 for DMAET and DEAET, respectively. Unlike BPPGE-SWCNT-CoTAPc(mix) that detected the two sulfhydryls at slightly different potentials, BPPGE-SWCNT did not. The BPPGE-Ni gave enhanced Faradaic response for the redox probe ([Fe(CN)6]3−/4−) and also displayed enhanced electrocatalytic behaviour towards the detection of DMAET and DEAET with high sensitivity (~23x10−3 AM−1) and low detection limits (4.0 – 9.0 µM range). In comparison to other electrodes reported in the literature, BPPGE-Ni exhibits more promising features required for a simple, highly sensitive, fast and less expensive electrode for the detection of the hydrolysis products of V-type nerve agents in aqueous solution. The efficient response of the BPPGE-Ni is attributed to the high microscopic surface area of the nickel powder. The poor response of the BPPGE-Ni-SWCNT suggests that the nickel impurity in SWCNT did not show any detectable impact on the heterogeneous electron transfer kinetics of SWCNT. Unlike the nickel powder, SWCNT and CoTAPc-SWCNT, the NiTAPc-SWCNT hybrid did not show significant electrocatalysis towards the detection of the sulfhydryls. It is interesting, however, to observe for the first time that SWCNT induced crystallinity on the electropolymer of NiTAPc, and that such electropolymer exhibit charge-storage /-transfer properties that greatly enhance the electrochemical response of nitric oxide.
Dissertation (MSc (Chemistry))--University of Pretoria, 2008.