This paper presents an aptameric graphene nanosensor for detection of small-molecule biomarkers. To address difficulties in direct detection of small molecules associated with their low molecular weight and electrical charge, we incorporate an aptamer-based competitive affinity assay in a graphene field effect transistor (FET), and demonstrate the utility of the nanosensor with dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S), a small-molecule steroid hormone, as the target analyte. In the competitive affinity assay, DHEA-S specifically binds to aptamer molecules pre-hybridized to their complementary DNA anchor molecules immobilized on the graphene surface. This results in the competitive release of the strongly charged aptamer from the DNA anchor and hence a change in electrical properties of the graphene, which can be measured to achieve the detection of DHEA-S. We present experimental data on the label-free, specific and quantitative detection of DHEA-S at clinically appropriate concentrations with an estimated detection limit of 44.7. nM, and analyze the trend observed in the experiments using molecular binding kinetics theory. These results demonstrate the potential of our nanosensor in the detection of DHEA-S and other small molecules in biomedical applications.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biomedical Engineering