Two-dimensional (2D) materials are enabling manufacturers and researchers to revolutionize sensing devices and acquire extremely precise data from challenging environments. Graphene still occupies the leading-edge in the commercial and industrial realization of 2D materials. With tremendous theoretical electrical conductivity, mechanical flexibility, optical transparency, and biocompatibility, sensing elements based on graphene are frequently considered for a plethora of application areas.
Graphene sensors exploit a monomolecular sheet of carbon atoms arranged in a continuous hexagonal lattice, either as an active sensing element or as a substrate for functional nanoparticles. While many of the potential applications of graphene sensors based on these architectures remain in their contemplative phases, functioning graphene sensors are entering various markets with increasing frequency.
In this article, Grolltex explores a small selection of the biochemistry applications for graphene sensors today and in the near future.
A typical biosensor is comprised of several key components: A bioreceptor, a transducer, and a signal processor. The general structure enables the acquisition of a biological indicator which is converted into a physicochemical signal then an electrical value for processing.
Graphene sensors have already enjoyed significant success in biochemistry and life sciences applications, enabling the immobilization of various biomolecules (antibodies, enzymes, etc.) via coupling reactions or physisorption. These molecules can then be rapidly and reliably detected through electrochemical signal processing, providing a unique method of quantitatively detecting biomolecules of interest in real-time without the use of expensive reagents and time-consuming assay preparation.
Wearable technologies have experienced a dramatic uptick in recent years with the onset of smart personal devices and advanced internet of things (IoT) capabilities. Graphene sensors, with their exceptional electromechanical properties combined with superb flexibility, are increasingly at the forefront of research and development (R&D) into advanced wearable technologies.
Health and wellness are among the primary applications of wearables. Smart watches are now able to monitor stress levels, provide sleep tracking, and even detect early symptoms of atrial fibrillation (AF). Graphene sensors are poised to enter this niche, building new platforms for monitoring various health parameters from blood pressure to glucose levels. Recent research has shown how graphene sensors coated with bioactive quantum dots (QDs) could function as self-powered pulse oximeters for continuous monitoring of blood volume changes.
The success of graphene sensors in biosensing research has paved the way for enormous interest in the use of graphene-based nanomaterials in DNA detection. With exceptional sensitivity and specificity, graphene sensors are earmarked as having outstanding potential in the field of advanced DNA sequencing and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) methods. This first requires further research into the synthesis of graphene-based nanostructures such as pores and ribbons, owing to intrinsic limitations of raw graphene monolayers in conditions typical of DNA assays (i.e. hydrophobicity).
Grolltex is the largest commercial producer of graphene generated via chemical vapor deposition (CVD) in the US. We can assist in the deposition of graphene on a choice of substrates to suit a range of downstream applications.
If you would like to learn more about the emerging applications of graphene sensors, be sure to check back on our blog page in the coming weeks. Or, if you have any questions about our 2D materials foundry surfaces and contract manufacturing of graphene structures, simply contact a member of the Grolltex team today.