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Nanotube-based sensors functionalized with naturally occurring biomolecules, such as enzymes and antibodies/antigens, often require an auxiliary mechanical or chemical linking mechanism to attach the functionalizing agent to the nanotube. The biomolecule alone is usually unable to bind to both the SWNT and the target molecule. In addition, many biomolecules are susceptible to loss of biological activity upon binding to a substrate such as a carbon nanotube and also to instability and degradation upon environmental exposure.
As an answer to the above problems, U.S. Air Force researchers have developed an improved biosensor leveraging the benefits of SWNTs in sensing conductivity changes together with peptide sequences designed to specifically recognize and bind to target molecules. Binding to targets of interest creates a conductivity change in the SWNT which can be electronically detected. These peptides bind directly to the SWNTs and to the target.
- The binding of the target molecule may be noncovalent such that the detection device may be reused by removing the target molecule
- This technology is particularly useful for creating a sensor to monitor conditions at the nanometer scale
- Peptide is long enough to maintain its high level of selectivity but short enough to avoid the problems of instability and degradation suffered by many larger protein molecules
- US patent 8,716,029 available for license
- Potential for collaboration with Air Force researchers