Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) are the most thoroughly studied nanoparticles because of their remarkable optical properties. Color changes in assays that use AuNPs can be easily observed with the naked eye, resulting in sensitive colorimetric methods, useful for detecting a variety of biological molecules. However, while AuNPs represent an excellent nano-platform for developing analytical methods for biosensing, there are still challenges that must be overcome before colloidal AuNPs formulation can be successfully translated into practical applications. One of those challenges is the ability to immobilize AuNPs in a solid support. There are many difficulties with controlling both the cluster size and the adhesion of the coatings formed. In addition, many of the techniques employed are expensive and time-consuming, or require special equipment. Thus, a simple and inexpensive method that only requires common lab equipment for immobilizing AuNPs on a surface using Starch Hydrogels has been developed. Starch hydrogels confer a 400% increase in stability to the nanoparticles when exposed to changes in the environment while also allowing for macromolecules to interact with the AuNPs surface. Several starch derivatives were tested, including, dextrin, beta-cyclodextrin and maltodextrin, being dextrin the one that conferred the highest stability. As a proof-of-concept, a SlipChip microfluidic sensor scheme was developed to measure the concentration of DNA in a sample. The detection limit of our biosensor was found to be 25 ng/mL and 75 ng/mL for instrument and naked eye detection, respectively.
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