A nickel-based composite electrode obtained by anodic electrodeposition of nickel (III) oxyhydroxide film on the gold electrode substrate was characterized as an amperometric sensor and successfully applied to the determination of underivatised amino acids in flow-through systems. The electrodeposition of nickel oxyhydroxide films was obtained by cycling a gold electrode between 0.0 V and +1.0 V vs. a saturated calomel electrode in a 80 mu M Ni2+ solution buffered at pH 10 with NaHCO3/Na2CO3. The resulting Au-Ni composite electrode exhibits good stability in alkaline medium and can be used as an amperometric sensor of underivatised amino acids at a fixed applied potential (+0.55 V vs. Ag/AgCl). The detection limits (S/N=3) for all investigated compounds ranged between 5 and 30 pmol injected, while the linear ranges spanned over two or three orders of magnitude. The contents of several free amino acids in two sample cheeses from different brands were evaluated by calibration graphs.
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