We analyzed the nanodiamond-derived onion-like carbon (OLC) as function of synthesis temperature (1000∼1400 °C), by high-resolution electron microscopy, electron energy loss spectroscopy, visible-Raman spectroscopy, ultraviolet photoemission spectroscopy, impedance spectroscopy, cyclic voltammetry and differential pulse voltammetry. The temperature dependences of the obtained properties (averaged particle size, tensile strain, defect density, density of states, electron transfer kinetics, and electrochemical oxidation current) unanimously coincided: they initially increased and saturated at 1200 °C. It was attributed to the inherent tensile strains arising from (1) the volume expansion associated with the layer-wise diamond-to-graphite transformation of the core, which caused forced dilation of the outer shells during their thermal synthesis; (2) the extreme curvature of the shells. The former origin was dominant over the latter at the outermost shell, of which the relevant evolution in defect density, DOS and electron transfer kinetics determined the electrochemical performances. In detection of dopamine (DA), uric acid (UA) and ascorbic acid (AA) using the OLC as electrode, their oxidation peak currents were enhanced by factors of 15∼60 with annealing temperature. Their limit of detection and the linear range of detection, in the post-treatment-free condition, were as excellent as those of the nano-carbon electrodes post-treated by Pt-decoration, N-doping, plasma, or polymer.
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