Department of Chemistry



Shigeru Amemiya



Chevron Science Center, 219 Parkman Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA 15260

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Research Overview

Our studies are focused on electrochemistry and analytical applications of charge- and molecular-transport processes at liquid/liquid interfaces, such as water/organic solution, water/polymer membrane, and biomembrane interfaces. Especially, our projects are directed toward (1) understanding membrane transport phenomena of chemical and biological importance and (2) developing electrochemical sensors based on the interfacial transport processes. In addition to conventional electrochemical techniques, we use scanning probe microscopy, such as scanning electrochemical microscopy (SECM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM), in order to investigate the interfacial transport processes with high spatial resolutions. We also use computational simulation approaches to quantitatively understand these transport processes.

Chemical Imaging of Biomembranes by SECM

It is well known that biomembrane surface is laterally highly heterogeneous in nanometer scale. Thus, high-resolution imaging of membrane structure and function is urgently required in various biological contexts. We will develop very small electrochemical sensors for studying the ion- and molecular-transport processes through biomembrane nanostructures, e.g., ion-channel pores (0.2-10 nm) and lipid domains (100-500 nm). A scanning electrochemical microscope is used to position the sensors very close to a biomembrane surface and measure their response simultaneously. As the response indicates how fast the transport processes are at the local position, a plot of the response against the x,y-positions gives a chemical image of the membrane surface.

Electrochemical Sensors Based on Interfacial Molecular Recognition

In our second project, electrochemical sensors with high selectivity and sensitivity will be developed on the basis of molecular recognition (or host-guest chemistry) at liquid/liquid interfaces. Interfacial transfer of an analyte ion from a sample solution into a sensor membrane can be facilitated selectively by a receptor (ionophore) that forms complexes with the analyte in the membrane phase. This process can be directly detected as electrical signals, i.e., potential and current, allowing for simple construction of ion sensors, so called potentiometric and voltammetric ion-selective electrodes (ISEs), respectively. We are interested in miniaturization of the sensors for biomembrane studies (Figure 1) and in improving and understanding their response properties for clinical and environmental analysis. For both purposes, we will try to widen the range of detectable analytes by applying different types of receptors and by sophisticating detection principles.

Computational Simulations of Electrochemical Problems

We use PC-based numerical simulation methods to quantitatively understand important processes in the above-mentioned projects and more generally those in electrochemical problems, which have not been accessible analytically or numerically within reasonable computation time. A special emphasis will be on comprehensive understanding of diffusion and other kinetic processes at microenvironments such as intra- and extracellular spaces, biomembrane surfaces, and microelectrodes.


  • NSF CAREER Award 2007-2012; Research Corporation Research Innovation Award 2002; The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Postdoctoral Fellowship 1998-2001.


“Adsorption and Electron-Transfer Mechanisms of Ferrocene Carboxylates and Sulfonates at Highly Oriented Pyrolytic Graphite,” N. Kurapati, P. Pathirathna, C. J. Ziegler and S. Amemiya ChemElectroChem 2019, 6, 5651-5660
“Nanoscale Intelligent Imaging Based on Real-Time Analysis of Approach Curve by Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy,” R. J. Balla, D. T. Jantz, N. Kurapati, R. Chen, K. C. Leonard and S. Amemiya Anal. Chem 2019, 91, 10227-10235
““Probing High Permeability of Nuclear Pore Complexes by Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy: Ca2+ Effects on Transport Barriers,” P. Pathirathna, R. J. Balla, D. T. Jantz, N. Kurapati, E. Gramm, K. C. Leonard and S. Amemiya Anal. Chem 2019, 91, 5446-5454
“Nanoelectrochemistry of Adsorption-Coupled Electron Tarnsfer at Carbon Electrodes,” S. Amemiya Nanocarbon Electrochemistry: Fundamentals and Applications 2019, 1-31
“Voltammetric Measurement of Adsorption Isotherm for Ferrocene Derivatives on Highly Oriented Pyrolytic Graphite,” N. Kurapati, P. Pathirathna, R. Chen, and S. Amemiya Anal. Chem 2018, 90, 13632-13639
“Nanogap-Based Electrochemical Measurements at Double-Carbon-Fiber Ultramicroelectrodes,” P. Pathirathna, R. J. Balla and S. Amemiya Anal. Chem 2018, 90, 11746-11750
“Self-Inhibitory Electron Transfer of the Co(III)/Co(II)-Complex Redox Couple at Pristine Carbon Electrode,” R. Chen, A. Morteza Najarian, N. S. Kurapati, R. J. Balla, A. Oleinick, I. Svir, C. Amatore, R. L. McCreery and S. Amemiya Anal. Chem. 2018, 90, 11115–11123
“Simulation of Fast-Scan Nanogap Voltammetry at Double-Cylinder Ultramicroelectrodes,” P. Pathirathna, R. J. Balla and S. Amemiya J. Electrochem. Soc 2018, 165, G3026–G3032
“Ultraflat, Pristine and Robust Carbon Electrode for Fast Electron Transfer Kinetics,”  Najarian AM, Chen R, Balla RJ, Amemiya S, and McCreery RL Anal. Chem. 2017, 89, 13532-13540
“In-Situ Detection of the Adsorbed Fe(II) Intermediate and the Mechanism of Magnetite Electrodeposition by Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy,” Bhat MA, Nioradze N, Kim NJ, Amemiya S, and Bard AJ   J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017, 139, 15891-15899