Medicine and Health Sciences | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Fast-scan cyclic voltammetry (FSCV) is a powerful technique for measuring sub-second changes in neurotransmitter levels. A great time-limiting factor in the use of FSCV is the production of high-quality recording electrodes; common recording electrodes consist of cylindrical carbon fiber encased in borosilicate glass. When the borosilicate is heated and pulled, the molten glass ideally forms a tight seal around the carbon fiber cylinder. It is often difficult, however, to guarantee a perfect seal between the glass and carbon. Indeed, much of the time spent creating electrodes is in an effort to find a good seal. Even though epoxy resins can be useful in this regard, they are irreversible (seals are permanent), wasteful (epoxy cannot be reused once hardener is added), hazardous (hardeners are often caustic), and require curing. Herein we characterize paraffin as an electrode sealant for FSCV microelectrodes. Paraffin boasts the advantages of near-immediate curing times, simplicity in use, long shelf-life and stable waterproof seals capable of withstanding extended cycling. Borosilicate electrode tips were left intact or broken and dipped in paraffin embedding wax. Excess wax was removed from the carbon surface with xyelenes or by repeated cycling at an extended waveform (-0.4 to 1.4V, 400 V/s, 60 Hz). Then, the waveform was switched to a standard waveform (-0.4 to 1.3V, 400 V/s, 10 Hz) and cycled until stable. Wax-sealing does not inhibit electrode sensitivity, as electrodes detected linear changes in dopamine before and after wax (then xylenes) exposure. Paraffin seals are intact after 11 days of implantation in the mouse, and still capable of measuring transient changes in in vivo dopamine. From this it is clear that paraffin wax is an effective sealant for FSCV electrodes that provides a convenient substitute to epoxy sealants.

Original Citation

Ramsson ES, Cholger D, Dionise A, Poirier N, Andrus A, Curtiss R (2015) Characterization of Fast-Scan Cyclic Voltammetric Electrodes Using Paraffin as an Effective Sealant with In Vitro and In Vivo Applications. PLoS ONE 10(10): e0141340. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0141340