Supramolecular Bio-Nano-Architectures as Biosensing Platforms (NSF-CBET - PI Atanassov)

The goal of this collaboration with University of Utah is the development of self-powered enzymatic biosensors using direct electron transfer (DET) with the aid of PQQ dehydrogenase enzymes. PQQ-dependent catalysts are more favorable to catalyze bio-electrocatalytic systems than NAD+- dependent enzymes and would provide means to enhance the oxidation reaction rate.

The research plan is focused on bio-nano-architectures for inhibition and activation-based self-powered sensing. This will be done through 3 main tasks. The first task will be to isolate, purify, and characterize quinohemo enzymes from acetic acid bacteria. We will evaluate the inhibition and activation mechanisms of these enzymes. The second task will be materials development for the abiotic interface of enzymes to electrode surfaces for direct electron transfer. The third task will focus on the characterization of these inhibition/activation processes for self-powered biosensing.

The research in the area of bio-nano-interfaces lays in the intellectual cross-section of bio- and nano-sciences. Bringing understanding to the key phenomena of inhibition and/or promotion of bio-catalyzed charge transfer processes is of great value to many emerging processes of raising national importance: solar energy harvesting, electrical power generation and electrocatalytic fuel generation. In all these processes the current generation of researchers is seeking to find bio- inspired solutions. As it expands to sensing, the biological systems are the only one that offers to us the concept of re-configurable sensing and integrated logic on molecular level. This project is making a step towards establishing the feasibility of a set of such interactions of electro-chemically active enzymes with nano-materials at supra-molecular level. UNM researchers are involved in an Army-funded STTR program with Lynntech Corp. to commercialize self-powered biosensors for water toxicity monitoring.


SEM images of Toray carbon paper (a) with CVD deposited multi-walled CNT (b) and the final glucose electrode structure after PEI coating and enzyme immobilization in Tetra-Butyl- Ammonia-modified Nafion matrix.

G.M. Strack, S. Babanova, K.E. Farrington, H.R. Luckarift, P. Atanassov, G.R. Johnson, PQQ-dependent glucose dehydrogenase as an anodic electrocatalyst: mediatorless redox processes for fuel cell applications, Journal of the Electrochemical Society, (2013) DOI: 10.1149/2.028307jes
G.M. Strack, H.R. Luckarift, S.R. Sizemore, R.K. Nichols, K.E. Farrington, P. Wu, P. Atanassov, J. Biffinger and G.R. Johnson, Power Generation from a Hybrid Biological Fuel Cell in Seawater, Bioresource Technology, 128 (2013) 222-228