Generation of electrochemiluminescence at bipolar electrodes: concepts and applications


Bipolar electrochemistry (BPE) is an unconventional technique where a conducting object is addressed electrochemically in an electrolyte without any wire connection with an external power supply. BPE has been known for decades but remained limited to only a couple of niche applications. However, it is now undergoing a true renewal of interest especially in the context of analytical chemistry. The bipolar electrode exhibits two distinct poles of opposite polarization with respect to the solution. This allows one to separate the localization of sensing elements versus reporting ones. Also, arrays of bipolar microelectrodes can be addressed simultaneously to perform parallel analyses. Among several reporting strategies, the combination of BPE with electro-chemiluminescence (ECL) is the most frequent choice owing to the very simple visual readout provided by ECL. This article reviews the field from the initial reports to the most recent ones, revealing numerous opportunities including novel analytical strategies for the detection of small molecular analytes and biorelevant molecules such as DNA, RNA, peptides, or other biomarkers.

Principle of electrochemiluminescence generation at one extremity of a bipolar electrode

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Correspondence to Laurent Bouffier or Alexander Kuhn or Neso Sojic.

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Published in the topical collection Analytical Electrochemiluminescence with guest editors Hua Cui, Francesco Paolucci, Neso Sojic, and Guobao Xu.

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Bouffier, L., Arbault, S., Kuhn, A. et al. Generation of electrochemiluminescence at bipolar electrodes: concepts and applications. Anal Bioanal Chem 408, 7003–7011 (2016).

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  • Electrochemiluminescence
  • Spectroelectrochemistry
  • Bipolar electrochemistry
  • Biosensors
  • Wireless sensing