by Prof. Arben Merkoçi, Nabioelectronics and Biosensors Group leader at ICN2
The environmental diagnostics is one of the priorities at the European and world level due to the problems environmental pollution is causing to human health in addition to other consequences to the economic development. Biosensors are nowadays a great alternative to conventional laboratories. In this context there is a high demand to develop innovative and cost-effective devices with interest for environment diagnostics, safety and security applications. The development of such devices is strongly related to new materials and technologies being nanomaterials and nanotechnology of special role. We study how new nanomaterials such as nanoparticles, graphene, nano/micromotors can be integrated in simple sensors thanks to their advantageous properties. Beside plastic platforms physical, chemical and mechanical properties of cellulose in both micro and nanofiber-based networks combined with their abundance in nature or easy to prepare and control procedures are making these materials of great interest while looking for cost-efficient and green alternatives for device production technologies.
Both paper and nanopaper-based biosensors are emerging as a new class of devices with the objective to fulfil the “World Health Organization” requisites to be ASSURED: affordable, sensitive, specific, user-friendly, rapid and robust, equipment free and deliverable to end-users. How to design simple paper-based biosensor architectures? How to tune their analytical performance upon demand? How one can couple nanomaterials such as metallic nanoparticles, quantum dots and even graphene with paper and what is the benefit? How we can make these devices more robust, sensitive and with multiplexing capabilities? Can we bring these low cost and efficient devices to places with low resources, extreme conditions or even at our homes? Which are the perspectives to link these simple platforms and detection technologies with mobile communication? I will try to give responses to these questions through various interesting applications related to various parameters with interest for environment control, safety and security. These applications are based on innovative and advantageous electrical, optical sensors and platforms including lateral flow devices and lab-on-a-chip that integrate various nanomaterials.
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