Design of Surface Modifications for Nanoscale Sensor Applications
Journal article, 2015
Nanoscale biosensors provide the possibility to miniaturize optic, acoustic and electric sensors to the dimensions of biomolecules. This enables approaching single-molecule detection and new sensing modalities that probe molecular conformation. Nanoscale sensors are predominantly surface-based and label-free to exploit inherent advantages of physical phenomena allowing high sensitivity without distortive labeling. There are three main criteria to be optimized in the design of surface-based and label-free biosensors: (i) the biomolecules of interest must bind with high affinity and selectively to the sensitive area; (ii) the biomolecules must be efficiently transported from the bulk solution to the sensor; and (iii) the transducer concept must be sufficiently sensitive to detect low coverage of captured biomolecules within reasonable time scales. The majority of literature on nanoscale biosensors deals with the third criterion while implicitly assuming that solutions developed for macroscale biosensors to the first two, equally important, criteria are applicable also to nanoscale sensors. We focus on providing an introduction to and perspectives on the advanced concepts for surface functionalization of biosensors with nanosized sensor elements that have been developed over the past decades (criterion (iii)). We review in detail how patterning of molecular films designed to control interactions of biomolecules with nanoscale biosensor surfaces creates new possibilities as well as new challenges.
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