A microfluidic biosensor using graphene oxide and aptamer-functionalized quantum dots for peanut allergen detection

Xuan Weng, Suresh Neethirajan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


The increasing prevalence of food allergies and the intake of packing foods in the past two decades urge the need for more rapid, accurate, and sensitive assays to detect potential allergens in food in order to control the allergen content. Most of the commercial analytical tools for allergen detection rely on immunoassays such as ELISA. As far as disadvantages, ELISA can be time-consuming and expensive. Biosensors appear as a suitable alternative for the detection of allergens because they are rapid, highly sensitive, selective, less expensive, environmentally friendly, and easy to handle. In this study, we developed a microfluidic system integrated with a quantum dots (Qdots) aptamer functionalized graphene oxide (GO) nano-biosensor for simple, rapid, and sensitive food allergen detection. The biosensor utilized Qdots-aptamer-GO complexes as probes to undergo conformational change upon interaction with the food allergens, resulting in fluorescence changes due to the fluorescence quenching and recovering properties of GO by adsorption and desorption of aptamer-conjugated Qdots. This one-step 'turn on' homogenous assay in a ready-to-use microfluidic chip took ~10 min to achieve a quantitative detection of Ara h 1, one of the major allergens appearing in peanuts. The results suggested this system had remarkable sensitivity and selectivity. The integration of a microfluidics platform in a homemade miniaturized optical analyzer provides a promising way for the rapid, cost-effective, and accurate on-site determination of food allergens. This biosensor can also be extended to the detection of other food allergens with a selection of corresponding aptamers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)649-656
Number of pages8
JournalBiosensors and Bioelectronics
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Aptamer
  • Ara h 1
  • Graphene oxide
  • Microfluidics
  • Quantum dots

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