Influence of anode surface chemistry on microbial fuel cell operation

Carlo Santoro, Sofia Babanova, Kateryna Artyushkova, Jose A. Cornejo, Linnea Ista, Orianna Bretschger, Enrico Marsili, Plamen Atanassov, Andrew J. Schuler

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


Self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) modified gold anodes are used in single chamber microbial fuel cells for organic removal and electricity generation. Hydrophilic (N(CH3)3+, OH, COOH) and hydrophobic (CH3) SAMs are examined for their effect on bacterial attachment, current and power output. The different substratum chemistry affects the community composition of the electrochemically active biofilm formed and thus the current and power output. Of the four SAM-modified anodes tested, N(CH3)3+ results in the shortest start up time (15days), highest current achieved (225μAcm-2) and highest MFC power density (40μWcm-2), followed by COOH (150μAcm-2 and 37μWcm-2) and OH (83μAcm-2 and 27μWcm-2) SAMs. Hydrophobic SAM decreases electrochemically active bacteria attachment and anode performance in comparison to hydrophilic SAMs (CH3 modified anodes 7μAcm-2 anodic current and 1.2μWcm-2 MFC's power density). A consortium of Clostridia and δ-Proteobacteria is found on all the anode surfaces, suggesting a synergistic cooperation under anodic conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-149
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Anode biofilm analysis
  • Bioelectrocatalysis
  • Microbial fuel cells
  • Self assembled monolayer
  • Surface modification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Electrochemistry


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