Self-powered platform holds promise… – Information Centre – Research & Innovation

A single exam strip – the first platform to couple a methanol fuel cell with a biosensor – could act as a self-powered, straightforward-to-use, disposable, and low-charge exam for disorders these as cancer, say EU-funded scientists.


© Konstiantyn Zapylaie #209120253, 2020

Biosensors are made to recognise particular target molecules (biomarkers) that suggest wellness circumstances, these as cancer. On the other hand, the need to have to link them to an power supply now limitations their potential use as point-of-care devices.

The EU-funded SYMBIOTIC project, which is supported via the European Innovation Council (EIC) Pathfinder investigation programme, beforehand FET Open, exploited earlier investigation – which proved that methanol fuel cells can be fused with electrochemical biosensors – to make a easy, lightweight, low-charge, and absolutely self-powered prototype.

The novel self-powered platform – which combines a fuel cell with a biosensor in a single exam-strip – could demonstrate vital in the detection and control of disorders, especially in situations of worldwide crisis.

‘Our platform is quite promising for apps in sensor devices considering that it has low power requires and can be easily miniaturised,’ suggests project coordinator Goreti Revenue, previously of the Polytechnic Institute of Porto in Portugal, now primarily based at the University of Coimbra in Portugal.

‘Although the concept is that each strip is utilised after, it can be reused several situations whilst retaining its steadiness and general performance, which is a novelty in this style of easy system.’

Operating in synergy

SYMBIOTIC scientists made the prototype system from a single strip of cellulose paper which houses both of those the methanol fuel cell and the biosensing ability. The biosensing layer is inserted straight into the methanol fuel cell to turn into an integral aspect of it, liable for changing chemical power into electrical power.

The fuel-cell anode is modified with a plastic antibody capable of recognising a protein biomarker. A couple drops of a patient’s sample are put on the strip. If this sample incorporates the biomarker of desire, this biomarker binds to the anode and generates an electrical adjust in the fuel cell to restrict its effectiveness.

The electrical signal attained from the fuel cell is straight associated to the concentration of the cancer biomarker in the sample.

The system is absolutely self-contained, operates autonomously at space temperature, and is entirely passive, demanding only a very small amount of aqueous methanol answer in mix with oxygen from the encompassing air.

The SYMBIOTIC platform could be utilised to detect a diversified array of substances, from little molecules, these as amino acids, to more elaborate molecules, these as cancer biomarkers.

The investigation crew also feel the impressive configuration of their system could be suitable as a micro fuel-cell method for a array of other portable apps that involve a little electricity supply.

A adaptable platform

Given that the project shut in 2018, PhD college students Liliana Carneiro and Nádia Ferreira have been operating on enhancing the current system. Creating use of new procedures for getting ready the plastic antibodies, for case in point, would noticeably decreased expenses and velocity up creation. Other strategies of rising the fuel cell’s effectiveness are also underneath investigation.

‘Because this method does not involve higher electricity output and a steady operation mode, the metallic catalysts we’ve used could be replaced by other more greatly obtainable catalysts at a decreased charge,’ adds Revenue.

The platform has the potential to be utilised in the upcoming for fast analysing individual samples wherever, opening chances for the wider use of biosensors in worldwide health care techniques.

The EIC Pathfinder programme (FET Open) fosters novel ideas to guidance early-stage science and technology investigation in checking out new foundations for radically new upcoming systems.