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  1. Pseudomonas aeruginosa(P. aeruginosa) is a phenazine-producing pathogen recognized for its biofilm-mediated antibiotic resistance, showing up to 1000 times higher resistance compared to planktonic cells. In particular, it is shown that a phenazine called pyocyanin promotes antibiotic tolerance inP. aeruginosacultures by upregulating efflux pumps and inducing biofilm formation. Therefore, real-time study of phenazine production in response to antibiotics could offer new insights for early detection and management of the infection. Toward this goal, this work demonstrates real-time monitoring ofP. aeruginosacolony biofilms challenged by antibiotics using electrochemical sensors based on direct laser functionalization of laser induced graphene (LIG) with gold (Au) nanostructures. Specifically, two routes for functionalization of the LIG electrodes with Au-containing solutions are studied: electroless deposition and direct laser functionalization (E-Au/LIG and L-Au/LIG, respectively). While both methods show comparable sensitivity (1.276 vs 1.205μAμM−1), E-Au/LIG has bactericidal effects which make it unsuitable as a sensor material. The effect of antibiotics (gentamicin as a model drug) on the production rate of phenazines before (i.e., in planktonic phase) or after biofilm formation is studied. The sensor data confirms that theP. aeruginosabiofilms are at least 100 times more tolerant to the antibiotic compared to planktonic cells. The biosensors are developed using a scalable and facile manufacturing approach and may pave the way toward simple-to-use antibiotic susceptibility testing devices for early infection diagnosis and real-time study of antibiotic resistance evolution.

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  2. Abstract

    Nitric oxide (NO) plays an important role in cardiovascular function, immune response, and intercellular signaling. However, due to its short lifetime, real-time detection of NO is challenging. Herein, an electrochemical sensor based on fibronectin-modified, solution-processed graphene ink for NO detection is developed using a facile fabrication method involving spin-coating and hot-plate annealing. The sensor is first electrochemically characterized with a NO donor, spermine NONOate, exhibiting a dynamic range of 10–1000μM. The fibronectin-functionalized graphene supports the attachment and growth of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells, as confirmed by optical microscopy. Extracellular NO production is stimulated using the amino acid L-arginine. NO production results in morphological changes to the adhered cells, which are reversible upon the addition of the NO synthase antagonist Nω-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester. The production of NO is also confirmed using real-time amperometric measurements with the fibronectin-functionalized graphene sensors. While this work focuses on NO detection, this potentially scalable platform could be extended to other cell types with envisioned applications including the high-throughput evaluation of therapeutics and biocompatible coatings.

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  3. Neurotransmitters are small molecules involved in neuronal signaling and can also serve as stress biomarkers.1Their abnormal levels have been also proposed to be indicative of several neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington disease, among others. Hence, measuring their levels is highly important for early diagnosis, therapy, and disease prognosis. In this work, we investigate facile functionalization methods to tune and enhance sensitivity of printed graphene sensors to neurotransmitters. Sensors based on direct laser scribing and screen-printed graphene ink are studied. These printing methods offer ease of prototyping and scalable fabrication at low cost.

    The effect of functionalization of laser induced graphene (LIG) by electrodeposition and solution-based deposition of TMDs (molybdenum disulfide2and tungsten disulfide) and metal nanoparticles is studied. For different processing methods, electrochemical characteristics (such as electrochemically active surface area: ECSA and heterogenous electron transfer rate: k0) are extracted and correlated to surface chemistry and defect density obtained respectively using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and Raman spectroscopy. These functionalization methods are observed to directly impact the sensitivity and limit of detection (LOD) of the graphene sensors for the studied neurotransmitters. For example, as compared to bare LIG, it is observed that electrodeposition of MoS2on LIG improves ECSA by 3 times and k0by 1.5 times.3Electrodeposition of MoS2also significantly reduces LOD of serotonin and dopamine in saliva, enabling detection of their physiologically relevant concentrations (in pM-nM range). In addition, chemical treatment of LIG sensors is carried out in the form of acetic acid treatment. Acetic acid treatment has been shown previously to improve C-C bonds improving the conductivity of LIG sensors.4In our work, in particular, acetic acid treatment leads to larger improvement of LOD of norepinephrine compared to MoS2electrodeposition.

    In addition, we investigate the effect of plasma treatment to tune the sensor response by modifying the defect density and chemistry. For example, we find that oxygen plasma treatment of screen-printed graphene ink greatly improves LOD of norepinephrine up to three orders of magnitude, which may be attributed to the increased defects and oxygen functional groups on the surface as evident by XPS measurements. Defects are known to play a key role in enhancing the sensitivity of 2D materials to surface interactions, and have been explored in tuning/enhancing the sensor sensitivity.5Building on our previous work,3we apply a custom machine learning-based data processing method to further improve that sensitivity and LOD, and also to automatically benchmark different molecule-material pairs.

    Future work includes expanding the plasma chemistry and conditions, studying the effect of precursor mixture in laser-induced solution-based functionalization, and understanding the interplay between molecule-material system. Work is also underway to improve the machine learning model by using nonlinear learning models such as neural networks to improve the sensor sensitivity, selectivity, and robustness.


    A. J. Steckl, P. Ray, (2018), doi:10.1021/acssensors.8b00726.

    Y. Lei, D. Butler, M. C. Lucking, F. Zhang, T. Xia, K. Fujisawa, T. Granzier-Nakajima, R. Cruz-Silva, M. Endo, H. Terrones, M. Terrones, A. Ebrahimi,Sci. Adv.6, 4250–4257 (2020).

    V. Kammarchedu, D. Butler, A. Ebrahimi,Anal. Chim. Acta.1232, 340447 (2022).

    H. Yoon, J. Nah, H. Kim, S. Ko, M. Sharifuzzaman, S. C. Barman, X. Xuan, J. Kim, J. Y. Park,Sensors Actuators B Chem.311, 127866 (2020).

    T. Wu, A. Alharbi, R. Kiani, D. Shahrjerdi,Adv. Mater.31, 1–12 (2019).

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 28, 2024
  4. Transition metals have been explored extensively for non-enzymatic electrochemical detection of glucose. However, to enable glucose oxidation, the majority of reports require highly alkaline electrolytes which can be damaging to the sensors and hazardous to handle. In this work, we developed a non-enzymatic sensor for detection of glucose in near-neutral solution based on copper-nickel electrodes which are electrochemically modified in phosphate-buffered saline (PBS). Nickel and copper were deposited using chronopotentiometry, followed by a two-step annealing process in air (Step 1: at room temperature and Step 2: at 150 °C) and electrochemical stabilization in PBS. Morphology and chemical composition of the electrodes were characterized using scanning electron microscopy and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. Cyclic voltammetry was used to measure oxidation reaction of glucose in sodium sulfate (100 mM, pH 6.4). The PBS-Cu-Ni working electrodes enabled detection of glucose with a limit of detection (LOD) of 4.2 nM, a dynamic response from 5 nM to 20 mM, and sensitivity of 5.47 ± 0.45 μA cm−2/log10(mole.L−1) at an applied potential of 0.2 V. In addition to the ultralow LOD, the sensors are selective toward glucose in the presence of physiologically relevant concentrations of ascorbic acid and uric acid spiked in artificial saliva. The optimized PBS-Cu-Ni electrodes demonstrate better stability after seven days storage in ambient compared to the Cu-Ni electrodes without PBS treatment. 
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  5. Abstract

    Pseudomonas aeruginosa(P. aeruginosa) is an opportunistic pathogen causing infections in blood and implanted devices. Traditional identification methods take more than 24 h to produce results. Molecular biology methods expedite detection, but require an advanced skill set. To address these challenges, this work demonstrates functionalization of laser‐induced graphene (LIG) for developing flexible electrochemical sensors forP. aeruginosabased on phenazines. Electrodeposition as a facile approach is used to functionalize LIG with molybdenum polysulfide (MoSx). The sensor's limit of detection (LOD), sensitivity, and specificity are determined in broth, agar, and wound simulating medium (WSM). Control experiments withEscherichia coli, which does not produce phenazines, demonstrate specificity of sensors forP. aeruginosa. The LOD for pyocyanin (PYO) and phenazine‐1‐carboxylic acid (PCA) is 0.19 × 10−6 and 1.2 × 10−6 m, respectively. Furthermore, the highly stable sensors enable real‐time monitoring ofP. aeruginosabiofilms over several days. Comparing square wave voltammetry data over time shows time‐dependent generation of phenazines. In particular, two configurations—“Normal” and “Flipped”—are studied, showing that the phenazines time dynamics vary depending on how cells interact with sensors. The reported results demonstrate the potential of the developed sensors for integration with wound dressings for early diagnosis ofP. aeruginosainfection.

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