A plug, print & play inkjet printing and impedance-base biosensing technology operating through a smartphone for clinical diagnostics

Giulio Rosati, Massimo Urban, Lei Zhao, Qiuyue Yang, Cecilia de Carvalho Castro e Silva, Stefano Bonaldo, Claudio Parolo, Emily P Nguyen, Gabriel Ortega, Paolo Fornasiero, Alessandro Paccagnella, Arben Merkoçi. Biosensors and Bioelectronics

Simplicity is one of the key feature for the spread of any successful technological product. Here, a method for rapid and low-cost fabrication of electrochemical biosensors is presented. This “plug, print & play” method involves inkjet-printing even in an office-like environment, without the need of highly specialized expertise or equipment, guaranteeing an ultra-fast idea to (scaled) prototype production time. The printed biosensors can be connected to a smartphone through its audio input for their impedance readout, demonstrating the validity of the system for point-of-care biosensing. Proper electrodes layout guarantees high sensitivity and is validated by finite element simulations. The introduction of a passivation method (wax printing) allowed to complete the devices fabrication process, increasing their sensitivity. Indeed, the wax allowed reducing the interference related to the parasitic currents flowing through the permeable coating of the employed substrates, which was used for the chemical sintering, thus avoiding the common thermal treatment after printing. As a case study, we used the devices to develop an electrochemical aptamer-based sensor for the rapid detection of neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) in urine – a clinically important marker of acute kidney injury. The aptasensor platform is capable of detecting clinically relevant concentrations of NGAL with a simple and rapid smartphone readout. The developed technology may be extended in the future to continuous monitoring, taking advantage of its flexibility to integrate it in tubes, or to other diagnostic applications where cost/efficiency and rapidity of the research, development and implementation of point of care devices is a must.

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