Three nitrogen-doped graphene samples were synthesized by the hydrothermal method using urea as doping/reducing agent for graphene oxide (GO), previously dispersed in water. The mixture was poured into an autoclave and placed in the oven at 160 °C for 3, 8 and 12 h. The samples were correspondingly denoted NGr-1, NGr-2 and NGr-3. The effect of the reaction time on the morphology, structure and electrochemical properties of the resulting materials was thoroughly investigated using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) Raman spectroscopy, X-ray powder diffraction (XRD), Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), elemental analysis, Cyclic Voltammetry (CV) and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). For NGr-1 and NGr-2, the nitrogen concentration obtained from elemental analysis was around 6.36 wt%. In the case of NGr-3, a slightly higher concentration of 6.85 wt% was obtained. The electrochemical studies performed with NGr modified electrodes proved that the charge-transfer resistance (Rct
) and the apparent heterogeneous electron transfer rate constant (Kapp
) depend not only on the nitrogen doping level but also on the type of nitrogen atoms found at the surface (pyrrolic-N, pyridinic-N or graphitic-N). In our case, the NGr-1 sample which has the lowest doping level and the highest concentration of pyrrolic-N among all nitrogen-doped samples exhibits the best electrochemical parameters: a very small Rct
(38.3 Ω), a large Kapp
(13.9 × 10−2
cm/s) and the best electrochemical response towards 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine detection (8-OHdG).
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