A biofilm microreactor system for simultaneous electrochemical and nuclear magnetic resonance techniques

R. S. Renslow, J. T. Babauta, P. D. Majors, H. S. Mehta, R. J. Ewing, T. W. Ewing, K. T. Mueller, H. Beyenal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) techniques are ideally suited for the study of biofilms and for probing their microenvironments because these techniques allow for noninvasive interrogation and in situ monitoring with high resolution. By combining NMR with simultaneous electrochemical techniques, it is possible to sustain and study live biofilms respiring on electrodes. Here, we describe a biofilm microreactor system, including a reusable and a disposable reactor, that allows for simultaneous electrochemical and NMR techniques (EC-NMR) at the microscale. Microreactors were designed with custom radio frequency resonator coils, which allowed for NMR measurements of biofilms growing on polarized gold electrodes. For an example application of this system we grew Geobacter sulfurreducens biofilms on electrodes. EC-NMR was used to investigate growth medium flow velocities and depth-resolved acetate concentration inside the biofilm. As a novel contribution we used Monte Carlo error analysis to estimate the standard deviations of the acetate concentration measurements. Overall, we found that the disposable EC-NMR microreactor provided a 9.7 times better signal-to-noise ratio over the reusable reactor. The EC-NMR biofilm microreactor system can ultimately be used to correlate extracellular electron transfer rates with metabolic reactions and explore extracellular electron transfer mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)966-973
Number of pages8
JournalWater Science and Technology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology


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