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Friday, 01 June 2012

ICN researchers publish review on graphene oxide and biosensors

Prof Arben Merkoci and Eden Morales-Narvaez, of ICN’s Nanobioelectronics and Biosensors Group, review the state-of-the-art in graphene oxide (GO) for optical biosensors in Advanced Materials.

According to the authors, graphene oxide (GO) offers numerous advantages over other materials for use in optical sensing systems for biological analytes.

ICREA Research Professor and UAB Professor Arben Merkoci, who heads ICN's Nanobioelectronics and Biosensors Group, and PhD candidate Eden Morales-Narvaez have just published a review article on the use of graphene oxide for biosensors. The article, entitled "Graphene Oxide as an Optical Biosensing Platform", appears online in the journal Advanced Materials.

In their review, Merkoci and Morales-Narvaez explore some of the hallmarks of GO, such as its potential for direct wiring to biomolecules (e.g. DNA, proteins, viruses, etc.), its aqueous solubility, and its functionalversatility—as it can be employed as insulator, semiconductor or semi-metal. They place special emphasis on the unique optical behaviour of GO, explaining how it can be selectively harnessed as acceptor or donor in various photo-excitation mechanisms—namely, Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET)—and used to quench fluorescence, chemiluminescence and colour.

After covering numerous literature examples of GO-based biosensors for a diverse array of applications, the authors discuss the future of these devices, outlining several research challenges that must be overcome in order for this field to advance. These include experimental optimisation of physical parameters of GO layers used (e.g. size, thickness and number of layers); in vivo assessment of GO safety and performance; and subsequent establishment of standards for clinical use of devices containing this material.

Graphene is a carbon allotrope. It comprises a planar sheet of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb pattern and measure only atom thick. It has been dubbed the "miracle material", among countless other superlatives, for its awesome strength, heat and electrical conductivity, and other physical-chemical properties, which researchers are endeavouring to exploit in myriad applications. Graphene oxide (GO) is a form of graphene that contains various oxygen functional groups distributed throughout its surface, including alcohol, ether and carboxylate moieties. These functional groups enable powerful fine-tuning of absorption and emission behaviour and are ripe for surface chemical functionalisation, making GO especially appealing for use in sensors.

The Early View version of the article, "Graphene Oxide as an Optical Biosensing Platform", can be accessed here.