The start of FeAtHEr-Cm

Today I did some electrochemistry.

A cyclic voltammogram

OK, that’s not too surprising from a person who earned is PhD doing electrochemistry; however this is different, and it has nothing to do with me avoiding cyclic voltammetry for the last decade of my career. It’s because I built this:

A potentiostat prototype, with electrochemical cell for scale.

That’s a bare-bones potentiostat built on top of the Adafruit Feather M4 Express and programmed using Circuitpython. There remains a lot of work to be done, but the fact that I could build a functioning scientific instrument for under $30 makes me think that this approach could make it possible one day to have a 1:1 student-to-instrument ratio when teaching voltammetry in analytical chemistry courses.

I’m thinking that it may be possible to build an entire suite of chemistry instrumentation based on the Feather platform, so I’m coining the phrase FeAtHEr-Cm for this project.

4 thoughts on “The start of FeAtHEr-Cm

  1. OK, I’m a chemist, but not an electrochemist. What does the FeAtHEr-Cm stand for? Why add another bizarre acronym – if that’s what it is – to the profession?
    I do like your “poor man’s potentiostat.” I have five boards ready to be populated to create JUAMI potentiostats, based on Arduinos. This looks even better.
    I’ve always thought it would be nice to have something capable of ASV for field measurements, as in an environmental course. Or bullet-proof enough to use in a liberal-studies chemistry lab. Do you think this could go there?

    • FeAtHEr isn’t an acronym – that’s the name of the form factor (Feather) of the microcontroller. I’m just noting that feather can be spelled with elements. Just one of those things I like to do.

      As for portability, the system can in principle run on a lithium ion battery, so yes, I think it could be very portable and useful in fringe cases such as remote environmental sensing. I haven’t given thought to the interfacing side of things yet, as this is really in the proof-of-concept stage at the moment.

      The big advantage of using the Feather M4 express over other Arduino boards is that it has true analog out on A0 (as opposed to PWM) so that simplifies a lot of circuit design. Zippy processor helps as well.

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