New composites could suit fuel cells and biosensors

Composites made of glucose oxidase (GOx), carbon nanotubes and biologically synthesised silica have been developed with the aim of using them in biosensors and biofuel cells

, as well as a variety of medical, scientific and industrial applications.
The development has been made by: Heather Luckarift and Glenn Johnson of the Air Force Research Laboratory at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, and Dmitri Invitski, Kateryna Artyuskova, Rosalba Rincon and Plamen Atanassov of the University of New Mexico.
The basic idea is to immobilise an enzyme (GOx) in a silica matrix intertwined with the nanotubes in order to provide electrical conductivity between the electrode and a carbon electrode substrate. The electrical conductivity of the nanotubes makes it possible to closely approach the ideal of direct electron transfer (DET) between the enzyme and the electrode substrate. For a biofuel cell, DET is advantageous because it obviates complex electron mediators that would otherwise be needed, thereby contributing to the miniaturisation of the electrodes and the maximising of output power. For a biosensor, DET is advantageous in that at least theoretically, it enables an electrode to function in a potential range close to the redox potential of the enzyme.

Tom Shelley

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