Earth.com: Spent coffee grounds can help detect brain activity

UC research provides another reason to love coffee

Earth.com highlighted chemistry research by the University of Cincinnati that examined how used coffee grounds can improve the sensitivity of electrodes that measure brain activity.

UC assistant professor Ashley Ross in UC's College of Arts and Sciences discovered that coating biosensors with coffee grounds improved their sensitivity.

Assistant professor Ashley Ross received $4 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health to study the link between the brain and the immune system.

Ashley Ross

“I saw papers about using spent grounds to produce porous carbon for energy storage, and I thought maybe we could use this conductive material in our neurochemistry detection work,” Ross told Earth.com. “And I also thought this would be a good excuse to buy lots of coffee for the lab!”

Microelectrodes are typically made from carbon fiber. Ross said using old coffee grounds could be an effective but green alternative.

For the study, Ross and her chemistry students made porous carbon from coffee grounds that they used to coat electrodes. They found that the coffee-coated electrodes were more sensitive than bare carbon fibers in detecting the neurotransmitter dopamine, allowing researchers to carry out faster measurements.

Ross will present her study's findings at the spring meeting of the American Chemical Society, which features 12,000 presentations on a variety of science topics.

Read the Earth.com story.

Featured image at top: UC researchers found that coffee grounds were effective at boosting the sensitivity of electrodes to study neurochemistry. Photo/Nathan Dumlao/Unsplash

Assistant professor Ashley Ross received $4 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health to study the link between the brain and the immune system.

UC College of Arts and Sciences assistant professor Ashley Ross studies bioanalytical chemistry. Photo/Ravenna Rutledge/UC Creative + Brand

More UC chemistry in the news

Assistant professor Ashley Ross received $4 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health to study the link between the brain and the immune system.

Ashley Ross and her students discovered that coffee grounds can boost the sensitivity of electrodes to study neurotransmitters. Photo/Ravenna Rutledge/UC Creative + Brand