Carbon is considered as an excellent electrode material due to its high electrical conductivity and mechanical strength . Pyrolytic carbon films are of interest for use in electroanalysis as they are often cheaper and more versatile as compared to glassy carbon or diamond-like carbon films . The molecular organisation of the precursors is known to affect the structure of the pyrolytic carbon and, therefore, highly organised cellulose is an attractive starting material as a possible source for pyrolytic carbon films on electrode substrates . Cellulose can be degraded to nanocrystalline cellulosic materials . Nanofibrils of cellulose or “whiskers” have been produced previously and they have been deposited on electrode materials using a layer-by-layer film deposition technique . These nanowhiskers are usually obtained by acid hydrolysis of native cellulose of cross-sectional dimensions are typically 4-20 nm and several hundred nanometers long, depending on the source of cellulose .
In this study, a novel method was introduced to produce ultrathin carbon layers of cellulose nanofibrils on an ITO substrate. A layer-by-layer deposition technique based on electrostatically driven layering of the cellulose nanofibrils and PDDAC, poly-(diallyldimethylammonium chloride), was employed to build up multilayer films on ITO substrates. Then, the cellulose layers were carbonised by vacuum pyrolysis at 500°C. The film morphology was characterized by AFM studies and the hydroquinone/benzoquinone redox system was employed as a model to investigate the electrochemical properties of these films. The results show that the carbonisation of cellulose nanofibrils changes dramatically the morphology as well as the electrochemical properties of the cellulose films. The number of layers and composition of the film also affect the electrochemical behaviour of the films.
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