A research team at DCU has identified a new way to produce gold nanoparticles necessary for sensing technology in a safer, greener and more cost effective way.
Quick and accurate diagnosis of health problems is a core pillar of modern medicine. At the foundation of that pillar lies biosensor technology. This breakthrough could be one of the first steps on a new path for biosensor manufacturing. These devices could be made cheap, plentiful, and readily available to all without the negative environmental impact of current manufacturing methods.
The team tested a new production process which involves using a laser to blast a piece of gold within a liquid medium to produce the nanoparticles which are then used to manufacture the sensors. This newly developed alternative to wet chemical methods for gold nanoparticle production uses less toxic chemical agents and provides a more sustainable production route. Using the sensor, the team successfully detected a biomarker molecule present in the blood of patients which is indicative of cancer.
This form of testing is not currently viable due to the cost of biosensor manufacturing. There is a body of research suggesting this molecule could be used to identify aggressive cancers early, which would improve treatment outcomes significantly due to earlier detection.
In addition, the team ran a trial production run in which they were able to create over 200 of these sensors in only a few hours at the low cost of just a few cents per sensor. The manufacturing process was designed to be easily automated, meaning that this process could easily be brought to factory scale.
Over the past few decades, the blossoming science of nanotechnology and the definition of new material forms has allowed manufacturers to make better biosensors, but usually at higher cost. This latest innovation points to a more sustainable and accessible era of biosensor diagnostic technology.
Dr Cian Hughes, Dr Sithara Sreenilayam and Prof Dermot Brabazaon collaborated on this project at DCU. All three are members of the SGI I-Form centre for Advanced Manufacturing.