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Protein Adsorption and Its Effects on Electroanalytical Performance of Nanocellulose/Carbon Nanotube Composite Electrodes

Touko Liljeström, Katri S. Kontturi, Vasuki Durairaj, Niklas Wester, Tekla Tammelin, Jari Koskinen




Abstract: Protein fouling is a critical issue in the development of electrochemical sensors for medical applications, as it can significantly impact their sensitivity, stability, and reliability. Modifying planar electrodes with conductive nanomaterials that possess a high surface area, such as carbon nanotubes (CNTs), has been shown to significantly improve fouling resistance and sensitivity. However, the inherent hydrophobicity of CNTs and their poor dispersibility in solvents pose challenges in optimizing such electrode architectures for maximum sensitivity. Fortunately, nanocellulosic materials offer an efficient and sustainable approach to achieving effective functional and hybrid nanoscale architectures by enabling stable aqueous dispersions of carbon nanomaterials. Additionally, the inherent hygroscopicity and fouling-resistant nature of nanocellulosic materials can provide superior functionalities in such composites. In this study, we evaluate the fouling behavior of two nanocellulose (NC)/multiwalled carbon nanotube (MWCNT) composite electrode systems: one using sulfated cellulose nanofibers and another using sulfated cellulose nanocrystals. We compare these composites to commercial MWCNT electrodes without nanocellulose and analyze their behavior in physiologically relevant fouling environments of varying complexity using common outer- and inner-sphere redox probes. Additionally, we use quartz crystal microgravimetry with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D) to investigate the behavior of amorphous carbon surfaces and nanocellulosic materials in fouling environments. Our results demonstrate that the NC/MWCNT composite electrodes provide significant advantages for measurement reliability, sensitivity, and selectivity over only MWCNT-based electrodes, even in complex physiological monitoring environments such as human plasma.



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