Neelkanth M. Bardhan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Enhanced graphene oxide nanosubstrates for rapid, highly efficient cell capture
Written by Mary Nora Dickson
Graphene is a promising material for inexpensive and precise nanosensors. One scalable, low-cost way to manufacture usable graphene substrates is to exfoliate graphene by chemically oxidizing it to graphene oxide. However, the oxygen content cannot be easily controlled with this method. But now, Neelkanth M. Bardhan, working with Angela Belcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has developed a simple, scalable way to reduce graphene oxide—by thermal annealing—which yields much better surface properties.
The group annealed the films at 80°C for between one and nine days. This process actually concentrates the oxygen groups into islands on the surface. Then the researchers functionalize the surface with a nanobody that is selective for the capture of a particular type of cell. This surface is selective enough to capture target cells from whole blood. The surfaces perform about 200% better than graphene oxide surfaces not subjected to the annealing treatment. A major implication is that these cell capture devices are easy and cheap enough to build in the developing world.