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Titanium is a metal with a wide variety of industrial uses, including the manufacture of electrical contacts. These typically consist of a high-conductivity soft electrode material with a second phase to provide corrosion and/or arc resistance. Electrode composition, structure and surface roughness play an important role in determining the performance of such electrical contacts. This article discusses the use of selective laser melting to fabricate a 3D titanium electrode array with well-defined microcylinder dimensions and inter-cylinder separations. The electrodes are subsequently coated with gold to investigate their electrochemical and electrochemiluminescent properties.
In contrast to conventional platinum, the platinised titanium bielectrode produces anodic current at low potentials, allowing for direct cathodic protection of steel. However, there was initially lukewarm enthusiasm at the small Magneto Chemie company (now part of ICI) for this innovation, particularly in the Metals Division where titanium mining, purification and processing were all expensive and labour intensive.
Despite the relatively poor initial reaction performance of the platinised titanium anode, it was soon recognised that its electrochemical properties were exceptional. The ability of the titanium to generate both oxidised and reduced [Ru(bpy)3]2+ in aqueous solution was in particular remarkable. The cyclic voltammograms shown in Figure 4 demonstrate that the current response is dominated by semi-infinite linear diffusion along the sides of the microcylinders rather than radial mass transport to the tips as one might expect at a platinum or carbon electrode. Moreover, the ECL signal decays less rapidly at negative potentials than at a platinum or carbon electrode.