London: An ultra-sensitive biosensor made from the wonder material graphene has been used to detect molecules that indicate an increased risk of developing cancer.
The biosensor has been shown to be more than five times more sensitive than bioassay tests currently in use.
It was able to provide results in a matter of minutes - opening up the possibility of a rapid diagnostic tool for patients, British researchers reported.
"Graphene has superb electronic transport properties and has an intrinsically high surface-to-volume ratio which makes it an ideal material for fabricating biosensors," said study co-author Owen Guy from the University of Swansea.
To develop a viable bionsensor, the researchers did not use the traditional exfoliation technique where layers of graphene are stripped from graphite.
Instead, they grew graphene onto a silicon carbide substrate under extremely high temperatures and low pressure to form the basis of the biosensor, before attaching a number of bioreceptor molecules to the graphene devices.
These receptors were able to bind to, or target, a specific molecule present in blood, saliva or urine.
Researchers highlighted the potential of the biosensor to diagnose and monitor a whole range of diseases as it is quite simple to substitute the specific receptor molecules on the graphene surface.
The paper was reported in the journal 2D Materials.