Thermoplastic Carbon Composite Electrodes

At a Glance

Patented method to produce inexpensive, customizable carbon composite electrodes. These electrodes are chemically modifiable with low electrical resistance and high activity.  A critical need for advanced electrodes exists universally, especially in regards to health monitoring (air pollution), or for the detection of toxic metals such as Pd, Cd, As.


While carbon electrodes typical exhibit superior electrochemical performance under well controlled laboratory conditions (e.g., inert atmosphere, highly purified and polished electrode surfaces), their utilization in electrochemical devices has been hampered due to A) generally poorer performance in ambient, real-world conditions, and/or B) relatively expensive fabrication costs. Carbon composite electrodes utilize carbon particles dispersed in some kind of matrix material (often a polymer) but to date are especially plagued by performance shortcomings and/or reproducibility problems.


Researchers in the Chemistry Department of Colorado State University have developed a method of producing carbon composite electrodes that is not only cost-effective but produces an electrode that offers best-in-class electrochemical performance under ambient conditions (on par or better than carbon nanotube-based electrodes, graphene, and noble metals). Incredibly, this performance is achieved with simple graphite, although the technology can be straightforwardly adapted to other carbon allotropes (e.g., graphene, carbon black, nanotubes). The electrode surface produced is amenable to further processing, such as by polishing, plasma cleaning, electrochemical conditioning, and chemical modification (e.g., adsorption of a chemical catalyst).

Perhaps even more advantageous from a commercial perspective, the electrodes may be readily manipulated and patterned using common thermoplastic techniques like embossing, molding, extruding, additive manufacturing (3D printing), and others. We expect that the combination of high electrochemical performance, near metallic conductivity, low cost, and ease of fabrication will enable a new generation of carbon composite electrodes.


  • Simple method to produce carbon composite electrode (e.g., graphite in plastic)
  • Electrode exhibits best-in-class electron transfer kinetics, conductivity, detection limit, signal-to-noise
  • Extremely mechanically stable – electrode amenable to surface treatments and thermoplastic handling techniques (e.g., molding, embossing)
  • Electrode can be regenerated via sanding the surface and reused many times over


  • Single or multiuse electrodes
  • Complex electrochemical sensors and microfluidic devices
  • Broadly, electrochemical devices employing metal or carbon electrodes – such as sensors, batteries, supercapacitors, microbial fuel cells, and disposable one-use generic electrodes
  • Microfluidic-based electrochemical assays or traditional electrochemical assays (e.g. detection of reactive oxygen species (ROS))
  • Photoelectrochemical devices – including cathodes within dye-sensitized solar cells
Last Updated: April 2022

Available for Licensing


Charles S Henry
Kevin J Klunder

Reference Number
Licensing Manager

Steve Foster