Whereas spectroscopic and chromatographic techniques for the detection of small organic molecules have achieved impressive results, these methods are generally slow and cumbersome, and thus the development of a general means for the real-time, electronic detection of such targets remains a compelling goal. Here we demonstrate a potentially general, label-free electronic method for the detection of small-molecule targets by building a rapid, reagentless biosensor for the detection of cocaine. The sensor, based on the electrochemical interrogation of a structure-switching aptamer, specifically detects micromolar cocaine in seconds. Because signal generation is based on binding-induced folding, the sensor is highly selective and works directly in blood serum and in the presence of commonly employed interferents and cutting agents, and because all of the sensor components are covalently attached to the electrode surface, the sensor is also reusable: we achieve >99% signal regeneration upon a brief, room temperature aqueous wash. Given recent advances in the generation of highly specific aptamers, this detection platform may be readily adapted for the detection of other small molecules of a wide range of clinically and environmentally relevant small molecules.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry