Researchers from Jinan University in Guangzhou, China and Washington State University have developed a novel type of sensor that works by measuring pressure changes induced by the production of oxygen (O2). The technology may miniaturise and make readily available testing of a wide variety of biomarkers. The team of researchers has already demonstrated how the technology can be used to detect thrombin, a blood clotting enzyme, and carcinoembryonic antigen, a protein related to a number of cancers.
The sensor consists of a small chamber within which gold-core platinum-shell nanoparticles are allowed to catalyse the breaking up of H2O2 in the presence of a target compound, in the process producing O2.
As the oxygen is released, the pressure within the chamber rises ever so slightly. A barometer is then used to detect the increased pressure, confirming the presence of the biomarker being searched for.
Besides medical applications, the investigators believe the technology will find use in environmental testing and for screening food for safety.