Advances in the miniaturization and portability of the chemical sensing devices have always been hindered by the external power supply problem, which has focused new interest in the fabrication of self-powered sensing devices for disease diagnosis and the monitoring of analytes. This review describes the fabrication of ZnO nanomaterial-based sensors synthesized on different conducting substrates for extracellular detection, and the use of a sharp borosilicate glass capillary (diameter, d = 700 nm) to grow ZnO nanostructures for intracellular detection purposes in individual human and frog cells. The electrocatalytic activity and fast electron transfer properties of the ZnO materials provide the necessary energy to operate as well as a quick sensing device output response, where the role of the nanomorphology utilized for the fabrication of the sensor is crucial for the production of the operational energy. Simplicity, design, cost, sensitivity, selectivity and a quick and stable response are the most important features of a reliable sensor for routine applications. The review details the extra- and intra-cellular applications of the biosensors for the detection and monitoring of different metallic ions present in biological matrices, along with the biomolecules glucose and cholesterol.
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