A screen-printed paper microbial fuel cell biosensor for detection of toxic compounds in water

Jonathan Chouler, Alvaro Cruz-Izquierdo, Saravanan Rengaraj, Janet Scott, Mirella Di Lorenzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Citations (SciVal)
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Access to safe drinking water is a human right, crucial to combat inequalities, reduce poverty and allow sustainable development. In many areas of the world, however, this right is not guaranteed, in part because of the lack of easily deployable diagnostic tools. Low-cost and simple methods to test water supplies onsite can protect vulnerable communities from the impact of contaminants in drinking water. Ideally such devices would also be easy to dispose of so as to leave no trace, or have a detrimental effect on the environment. To this aim, we here report the first paper microbial fuel cell (pMFC) fabricated by screen-printing biodegradable carbon-based electrodes onto a single sheet of paper, and demonstrate its use as a shock sensor for bioactive compounds (e.g. formaldehyde) in water. We also show a simple route to enhance the sensor performance by folding back-to-back two pMFCs electrically connected in parallel. This promising proof of concept work can lead to a revolutionizing way of testing water at point of use, which is not only green, easy-to-operate and rapid, but is also affordable to all.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-56
Number of pages8
JournalBiosensors and Bioelectronics
Early online date3 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2018


  • microbial fuel cell, biosensor, paper electronics, water quality, formaldehyde


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