Low-Cost Potentiostat

As part of JUAMI 2016, an international group of students, led by Y. Christopher Li of Penn State, created a teaching kit that combines the fabrication of a low-cost microcontroller-based potentiostat and a LabVIEW-generated graphical user interface. The team worked on the design and fabrication of this device for several months after generating the idea as a collaborative research proposal during their two weeks in Arusha. The group received financial support from the MRS Foundation, and their efforts culminated in a publication in the Journal of Chemical Education.

Due to its low cost (between $40 and $150 depending on the configuration) and ease of use, the JUAMI potentiostat enables undergraduate-level and high school students to learn electroanalytical techniques and characterize energy conversion devices such as solar cells. Yet, the quality of the data are comparable to those of a research-grade potentiostat and thus are valuable for studies at the graduate level. The electronic circuit components for the potentiostat are readily available and easy to assemble. The graphical user interface displays data in real-time and interacts with user commands. The software package is a stand-alone executable file that is compatible with any PC computer. Cyclic voltammetry, linear sweep voltammetry and chronoamperometry are all possible with this instrument. This teaching module is user-friendly so that it can be easily adapted into the classroom.

View example lessons here.

Example measurements made using the JUAMI potentiostat are documented in the recent publication, “Implementation of a Low-cost Potentiostat for Teaching Electrochemistry: Hardware and Software,” J. Chem. Education 95 1658-1661 (2018) All the necessary instructions and information, including schematics for the potentiostat, circuit layout, electronic components, case fabrication, step-by-step instructions for assembly, software user interface and detailed operating instructions are available in the Supplementary Material to that publication.

Included below is a step-by-step instructional video for potentiostat assembly. This video can also be found here.

Currently, we are working on transitioning the software from Labview to Python. Stay tuned, or better yet, volunteer! To help contribute to the project send an email to Dylan Bardgett (DylanBardgett2024@u.northwestern.edu) and visit the project’s Github Site.

This project was supported in part by Northwestern University’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Center.