Nanomaterial-based biosensors using dual transducing elements for solution phase detection
Biosensors incorporating nanomaterials have demonstrated superior performance compared to their conventional counterparts. Most reported sensors use nanomaterials as a single transducer of signals, while biosensor designs using dual transducing elements have emerged as new approaches to further improve overall sensing performance. This review focuses on recent developments in nanomaterial-based biosensors using dual transducing elements for solution phase detection. The review begins with a brief introduction of the commonly used nanomaterial transducers suitable for designing dual element sensors, including quantum dots, metal nanoparticles, upconversion nanoparticles, graphene, graphene oxide, carbon nanotubes, and carbon nanodots. This is followed by the presentation of the four basic design principles, namely Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET), Amplified Fluorescence Polarization (AFP), Bio-barcode Assay (BCA) and Chemiluminescence (CL), involving either two kinds of nanomaterials, or one nanomaterial and an organic luminescent agent (e.g. organic dyes, luminescent polymers) as dual transducers. Biomolecular and chemical analytes or biological interactions are detected by their control of the assembly and disassembly of the two transducing elements that change the distance between them, the size of the fluorophore-containing composite, or the catalytic properties of the nanomaterial transducers, among other property changes. Comparative discussions on their respective design rules and overall performances are presented afterwards. Compared with the single transducer biosensor design, such a dual-transducer configuration exhibits much enhanced flexibility and design versatility, allowing biosensors to be more specifically devised for various purposes. The review ends by highlighting some of the further development opportunities in this field.