Theoretical assessment of binding and mass-transport effects in electrochemical affinity biosensors that utilize nanoparticle labels for signal amplification

Jie Zhang, Boon Ping Ting, Jackie Y Ying

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6 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents a theoretical study of electrochemical affinity biosensors for the detection of DNA/protein that utilize nanoparticle labels for signal amplification. This study analyzes the effects of binding and mass transport of the analytes on biosensor performance by using numerical simulations. Four cases were considered: 1) nanoparticles used to increase the loading of an electroactive species, or used as catalysts under pseudo-first-order conditions; 2) nanoparticles used as ultramicroelectrode arrays for the electrolysis of large concentrations of substrate; 3) nanoparticles used as seeds to deposit electrochemically detectable species; and 4) nanoparticles used to mediate the deposition of electrocatalysts. By using nanoparticle labels, high sensitivity is possible under all conditions considered. However, theoretical findings suggested that nonspecific adsorption could be more problematic in cases 2-4 due to the mismatch between the chemistry of surface binding and the principle of signal amplification that originates from the effect of mass transport. Under these conditions, any given signal would plateau at a much lower analyte concentration, well before the analyte binding had actually reached a plateau. Views on possible solutions to the above limitations are also presented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15167 - 15177
Number of pages11
JournalChemistry - A European Journal
Issue number47
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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