Specific biomolecular couplings, such as antibody-antigen interactions, form the basis for numerous bioassays, including enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), immunoblotting, and immunoprecipitation. Conventionally, plasmonic biosensors include a substrate and a metal nanostructure, with antibodies as recognition elements for particular targets. While antibody-based biosensors offer excellent molecular recognition capabilities, there remain drawbacks. Particularly, antibody biosensors fail at certain pH levels and temperatures, lose conformation and recognition functionality in non-aqueous media, have high cost associated with generating antibodies, and have poor compatibility with micro- and nanofabrication processes.
To address the above shortcomings, Air Force researchers have developed a novel universal biomarker sensing platform by taking advantage of the optical properties of plasmonic nanoparticles (gold nanorods) functionalized with short peptide recognition elements. The simple design includes a substrate (glass, paper, polymer, etc.) with a metallic layer that is localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) reactive. Peptides make up the receptor layer on the surface of the metallic layer. Each peptide is selected to a desired biomarker. A surface plasmon resonance spectrometer serves as the detection technology.
- Metal nanostructures used in LSPR have been shown to be sensitive enough to detect single-biomolecule binding events and can monitor the kinetics of catalytic activity of single nanoparticles
- Nanorod-substrate production method can include lithography, sputtering, metal evaporation, etc.
- Less sensitive to changes in pH and temperature than antibody sensors
- Would be an excellent tool in point-of-care diagnostics
- US application number 20170016892 available for license
- Potential for collaboration with Air Force researchers