Biosensors have attracted a great deal of attention, as they allow for the translation of the standard laboratory-based methods into small, portable devices. The field of biosensors has been growing, introducing innovations into their design to improve their sensing characteristics and reduce sample volume and user intervention. Enzymes are commonly used for determination purposes providing a high selectivity and sensitivity; however, their poor shelf-life is a limiting factor. Researchers have been studying the possibility of substituting enzymes with other materials with an enzyme-like activity and improved long-term stability and suitability for point-of-care biosensors. Extra attention is paid to metal and metal oxide nanoparticles, which are essential components of numerous enzyme-less catalytic sensors. The bottleneck of utilising metal-containing nanoparticles in sensing devices is achieving high selectivity and sensitivity. This review demonstrates similarities and differences between numerous metal nanoparticle-based sensors described in the literature to pinpoint the crucial factors determining their catalytic performance. Unlike other reviews, sensors are categorised by the type of metal to study their catalytic activity dependency on the environmental conditions. The results are based on studies on nanoparticle properties to narrow the gap between fundamental and applied research. The analysis shows that the catalytic activity of nanozymes is strongly dependent on their intrinsic properties (e.g. composition, size, shape) and external conditions (e.g. pH, type of electrolyte, and its chemical composition). Understanding the mechanisms behind the metal catalytic activity and how it can be improved helps designing a nanozyme-based sensor with the performance matching those of an enzyme-based device. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Article number172
Number of pages20
JournalMicrochimica Acta
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2022


  • Biosensor
  • Diagnostics
  • Nanozyme
  • Nonenzymatic sensors
  • Point-of-care
  • Theranostics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry


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