A Combined Plasmonic and Electrochemical Aptasensor Based on Gold Nanopit Arrays for the Detection of Human Serum Albumin
Electrochemical and optical platforms are commonly employed in designing biosensors. However, one signal readout can easily lead to inaccuracies due to the effect of nonstandard test procedures, different operators, and experimental environments. We have developed a dual-signal protocol that combined two transducer principles in one aptamer-based biosensor by simultaneously performing electrochemical- and extraordinary optical transmission (EOT)-based plasmonic detection using gold nanopit arrays (AuNpA). Compared with full hole structures, we found that nanopits, that did not fully penetrate the gold film, not only exhibited a better plasmonic bandwidth and refractive index sensitivity both in the finite-difference time-domain simulation and in experiments by shielding the gold/quartz mode but also enlarged the electrochemical active surface area. Therefore, the periodic non-fully penetrating AuNpA were modified with ferrocene-labeled human serum albumin aptamer receptors. The formation of the receptor layer and human serum albumin binding complex induced a conformational change, which resulted in variation in the electron transfer between the electro-active ferrocene units and the AuNpA surface. Simultaneously, the binding event caused a surface plasmon polaritons wavelength shift corresponding to a change in the surface refractive index. Interestingly, although both transducers recorded the same binding process, they led to different limits of detection, dynamic ranges, and sensitivities. The electrochemical transducer showed a dynamic detection range from 1 nM to 600 μ M, while the optical transducer covered high concentrations from 100 μ M to 600 μ M. This study not only provides new insights into the design of plasmonic nanostructures but also potentially opens an exciting avenue for dual-signal disease diagnosis and point-of-care testing applications.