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Selective detection of water pollutants using a differential aptamer-based graphene biosensor

Li, Yijun, Zhu, Yibo, Wang, Cheng, He, Miao, Lin, Qiao
Biosensors & bioelectronics 2019 v.126 pp. 59-67
biosensors, environmental factors, estradiol, graphene, monitoring, pH, pollutants, tap water, transistors, water quality
Graphene field-effect transistor (GFET) sensors are an attractive analytical tool for the detection of water pollutants. Unfortunately, this application has been hindered by the sensitivity of such sensors to nonspecific disturbances caused by variations of environmental conditions. Incorporation of differential designs is a logical choice to address this issue, but this has been difficult for GFET sensors due to the impact of fabrication processes and material properties. This paper presents a differential GFET affinity sensor for the selective detection of water pollutants in the presence of nonspecific disturbances. This differential design allows for minimization of the effects of variations of environmental conditions on the measurement accuracy. In addition, to mitigate the impact of the fabrication process and material property variations, we introduce a compensation scheme for the individual sensing units of the sensor, so that such variations are accounted for in the compensation-based differential sensing method. We test the use of this differential sensor for the selective detection of the water pollutant 17β-estradiol in buffer and tap water. Consistent detection results can be obtained with and without interferences of pH variations, and in tap water where unknown interferences are present. These results demonstrate that the differential graphene affinity sensor is capable of effectively mitigating the effects of nonspecific interferences to enable selective water pollutant detection for water quality monitoring.