DStat: A Versatile, Open-Source Potentiostat for Electroanalysis and Integration
Most electroanalytical techniques require the precise control of the potentials in an electrochemical cell using a potentiostat. Commercial potentiostats function as “black boxes,” giving limited information about their circuitry and behaviour which can make development of new measurement techniques and integration with other instruments challenging. Recently, a number of lab-built potentiostats have emerged with various design goals including low manufacturing cost and field-portability, but notably lacking is an accessible potentiostat designed for general lab use, focusing on measurement quality combined with ease of use and versatility. To fill this gap, we introduce DStat (http://microfluidics.utoronto.ca/dstat), an open-source, general-purpose potentiostat for use alone or integrated with other instruments. DStat offers picoampere current measurement capabilities, a compact USB-powered design, and user-friendly cross-platform software. DStat is easy and inexpensive to build, may be modified freely, and achieves good performance at low current levels not accessible to other lab-built instruments. In head-to-head tests, DStat’s voltammetric measurements are much more sensitive than those of “CheapStat” (a popular open-source potentiostat described previously), and are comparable to those of a compact commercial “black box” potentiostat. Likewise, in head-to-head tests, DStat’s potentiometric precision is similar to that of a commercial pH meter. Most importantly, the versatility of DStat was demonstrated through integration with the open-source DropBot digital microfluidics platform. In sum, we propose that DStat is a valuable contribution to the “open source” movement in analytical science, which is allowing users to adapt their tools to their experiments rather than alter their experiments to be compatible with their tools.