Advances in materials science and chemistry have led to the development of a wide range of nanostructured materials for building novel electrochemical biosensors. A systematic understanding of the challenges related to electrode morphology involved in designing such sensors is essential for developing effective biosensing tools. In this study, we use nanoporous gold (np-Au) thin film electrode coatings with submicrometer thicknesses, as a model system to investigate the influence of nanostructuring on DNA-methylene blue (MB) interactions and their application to DNA biosensors. The interaction of single- and double-stranded DNA immobilized onto morphologically different np-Au films with MB was electrochemically interrogated via square wave voltammetry (SWV). The electrochemical signal from these electrodes in response to MB decayed progressively with each SWV scan. The decay rate was governed by accessibility of the electrochemically active np-Au surface by the analyte. The optimum frequency for extracting the maximum signal via SWV was influenced by the film morphology, where the optimum frequency was lower for the nanoporous morphology with lower density of molecular access points into the porous coating. Overall, the np-Au electrodes exhibited a 10-fold enhancement in probe grafting density and approximately 10-fold higher electrochemical current upon probe-target hybridization as compared to the planar Au electrodes. The np-Au electrodes enabled sensitive detection with a dynamic range of 10 to 100 nM that shifts by 1 order of magnitude for coarsened np-Au morphology due to increased target penetration into the porous network and hence enhanced hybridization efficiency. These findings provide insight into the influence of nanostructuring on the transport mechanisms of small molecules and nucleic acids, and yield an understanding of diverse sensor performance parameters such as DNA grafting density, hybridization efficiency, sensitivity and dynamic range.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry