Scientists at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) are working on creating graphene-based hypersensitive sensors for precise analyses and pre-clinical drug research. While using bio-sensor chips to gather information on the effectiveness and toxicity of future medicine is not a new concept, the researchers in this study have managed to significantly improve the technology.
The researchers substituted the connecting layers in existing chips with a thin film made of graphene plates, which helps increase the precision of the analysis of biochemical reactions almost threefold. It is expected that in some cases the improvement might be 10 or even 100-fold. Substances react to graphene even in minimal concentration, while with hydrogel and sulfur-containing molecules no reaction would be expected. Scientists say that using this method will reduce the time needed for conducting analyses from days to minutes.
In addition to a higher level of sensitivity than existing technology, the graphene-based chips can be used multiple times, so that the cost of conducting biochemical studies could be reduced. According to preliminary MIPT estimates, if produced on a mass scale the cost of a graphene oxide sensor chip will be less than $10. Currently, the market cost of a chip ranges between $50 and $200.