Nanoplasmonic paper-based platform for general screening of biomacromolecules

Ferran Pujol-Vila, Andrew Tobias Aveling Jenkins, Xavier Muñoz-Berbel, Jordi Mas Gordi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (SciVal)


Hygiene assessment in industrial and clinical environments is crucial in the prevention of health risks. Current technologies for routine cleanliness evaluation rely on the detection of specific biomolecules, thus requiring more than one test for broad-range screening. Herein, the modulation of the catalytic activity of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) by biomacromolecules was employed to develop a nanoplasmonic platform for general hygiene screening. AuNPs were immobilized on cellulose paper by simple adsorption. When ferricyanide was dispensed onto the paper, the AuNPs catalysed the ferricyanide’s dissociation, releasing free cyanide ions that dissolved them. The AuNP dissolution produced an intense colour shift detectable with the naked eye. When biomacromolecules (e.g., proteins and polysaccharides) were present, they spontaneously attached to AuNPs, forming a biomolecular corona (biocorona), reducing their catalytic activity until complete suppression when the NPs were fully covered by molecules. The concentration-dependent decrease in the catalytic activity was here used to quantify biomacromolecules and complex samples such as milk, eggs, soy sauce and yeast extract (in 20 min), with detection limits comparable to those of standard methods, i.e., 0.25 µg mL−1 for albumin. This nano-enabled technology may be applied as a broad-range (unspecific) alert system for inexpensive cleanliness evaluation, with potential applications in sensitive sectors including productive industries and hospitals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2335
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
Issue number12
Early online date25 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2020


  • Biomolecular coronas
  • Gold nanoparticles
  • Hygiene screening
  • Nanocatalytic activity
  • Nanoplasmonic platform

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Science(all)


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