Mesoporous gold–silver alloy films towards amplification-free ultra-sensitive microRNA detection†
Herein, we report the preparation of mesoporous gold (Au)–silver (Ag) alloy films through the electrochemical micelle assembly process and their applications as microRNA (miRNA) sensors. Following electrochemical deposition and subsequent removal of the templates, the polymeric micelles can create uniformly sized mesoporous architectures with high surface areas. The resulting mesoporous Au–Ag alloy films show high current densities (electrocatalytic activities) towards the redox reaction between potassium ferrocyanide and potassium ferricyanide. Following magnetic isolation and purification, the target miRNA is adsorbed directly on the mesoporous Au–Ag film. Electrochemical detection is then enabled by differential pulse voltammetry (DPV) using the [Fe(CN)6]3−/4− redox system (the faradaic current for the miRNA-adsorbed Au–Ag film decreases compared to the bare film). The films demonstrate great advantages towards miRNA sensing platforms to enhance the detection limit down to attomolar levels of miR-21 (limit of detection (LOD) = 100 aM, s/n = 3). The developed enzymatic amplification-free miniaturized analytical sensor has promising potential for RNA-based diagnosis of diseases.