A paper-based photoelectrochemical sensing platform based on in situ grown ZnO/ZnIn2S4 heterojunctions onto paper fibers for sensitively detecting AFP

Huang J, Li X, Xiu M et al. Biosensors (Basel) 2022;12(10):818

Nowadays, developing a cost-effective, easy-to-operate, and efficient signal amplification platform is of important to microfluidic paper-based analytical devices (μ PAD) for end-use markets of point-of-care (POC) assay applications. Herein, an ultrasensitive, paper-based photoelectrochemical (PEC) bioassay platform is constructed by in situ grown ZnO/ZnIn2S4 heterojunctions onto paper fibers, which acted as photoactive signal amplification probes for enhancing the sensitivity of antibodies-based diagnostic assays, for the sensitive detection of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) targets. The crystalline flake-like ZnIn2S4 composited with hexagonal nanorods (NRs) morphology of ZnO is an in situ grown, at the first time, onto cellulose fibers surface supported with Au nanoparticle (Au NP) modification to improve conductivity of the device working zone. The obtained composites on paper fibers are implemented as a flexible paper-based photoelectrode to realize remarkable performance of the fabricated μ PAD, resulting from the enhanced PEC activity of heterojunctions with effective electron-hole pair separation for accelerating photoelectric conversion efficiency of the sensing process under light irradiation. Once the target AFP was introduced into the biosensing interface assistant, with a specific recognition interaction of AFP antibody, a drastically photocurrent response was generated, in view of the apparent steric effects. With the concentration increase of AFP targets, more immune conjugates could be confined onto the biosensing interface, eventually leading to the quantitative decrease of photocurrent intensity. Combined with an ingenious origami design and permitting the hydrophobic/hydrophilic conversion procedure in the bioassay process, the ultrasensitive PEC detection of AFP targets was realized. Under the optimized conditions, the level of AFP could be sensitively tracked by the prepared μ PAD with a liner range from 0.1 to 100 ng mL-1 and limit of detection of 0.03 ng mL-1. This work provides a great potential application for highly selective and sensitive POC testing of AFP, and finally, developments for clinical disease diagnosis.