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By producing electrical signals proportionate to the concentration of an analyte in the reaction, a biosensor is an analytical tool used to quantify biological or chemical reactions. The word "biosensor" was first used by "Cammann" in 1977, however the first biosensor was created in 1950 by American biologist "L.L. Clark." These are by definition self-sufficient integrated devices that use a biological recognition element paired to a transduction element to deliver qualitative and semi-quantitative analytical data. These analytical tools are designed only to deliver fast, accurate, and trustworthy real-time information about an analyte of interest.


Biosensing Elements

A transducer, which transforms the data into electrical impulses, and a biological sensing device come together to form a biosensor. A biosensor consists of three units, a signal conditioning unit, a processor or microcontroller, and a display unit, constitutes the electronic circuit. A transducer and a biosensing device are the two main components of a conventional biosensor. Many biosensing components and devices have been created during the past few decades. To produce a signal, biological sensing components interact with the target analyte. Materials like tissues, microbes, organelles, cell receptors, enzymes, antibodies, and nucleic acids are typically considered sensing elements. The transducer then converts the signal produced by the interaction of the sensing element and the target analyte into a quantifiable and detectable electrical signal. In order to produce a measurable signal in the form of a digital display, printout, or color change, the signal processing system amplifies the electrical signal and sends it to a data processor.

Components of Biosensor:

1. Analyte:

A material of interest that has to be found. For instance, in a biosensor used to identify glucose, glucose serves as an "analyte."

2. Bioreceptor:

A bioreceptor is a molecule that identifies the analyte precisely. Bioreceptors include things like enzymes, cells, aptamers, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), and antibodies. Bio-recognition is the process of generating a signal (such as light, heat, pH, charge or mass shift, etc.) when the bioreceptor and analyte interact.

3. Transducer:

An element that transforms one type of energy into another is called a transducer. The transducer's job in a biosensor is to transform the bio-recognition event into a signal that can be measured. Signalization is the term used to describe this energy conversion process. Analyte-bioreceptor interactions are typically proportionate to the optical or electrical signals produced by most transducers.

4. Electronics:

A biosensor's electronics section processes the transduced signal and gets it ready for display. It is made up of intricate electrical circuitry that carries out signal conditioning tasks like amplification and digital signal conversion from analog form. The biosensor's display device then quantifies the signals that have been processed.

5. Display:

The display is made up of a user interpretation system that produces comprehensible numbers or curves for the user, like a computer's liquid crystal display or a direct printer. This component typically comprises of a hardware and software combination that produces the biosensor's results in an approachable way. Depending on the end-user's needs, the output signal on the display may be graphic, tabular, numeric, or a picture.

Working Principle of a Biosensor

All the above components work together to transform the biological response into an equivalent electrical response and, in the end, a measured output. To put it another way, biosensors translate a molecule's biological activity into a measurable signal, which allows for the quantitative analysis of that chemical. First, a physiological change is caused by the test sample's molecule of interest binding to or particularly interacting with the biological receptor. This modifies the transducer's physicochemical characteristics even more when it is near the biological receptor. This further result in an alteration of the transducer's optical or electronic characteristics, which are then transformed into an electrical signal that can be detected. Depending on the kind of biological receptor, the transducer can generate a voltage or current as a signal. If the transducer produces a current as its output, it will be transformed into a voltage equivalent. Furthermore, a high frequency noise signal often masks the output voltage, which necessitates additional adjustments, processing, and amplification via several filters inside the signal processing unit. Ultimately, the biological quantity being measured should be equivalent to the output produced by the signal processing unit.

Special Features of Biosensors

All biosensors share some static and dynamic characteristics. The biosensor's performance is a direct result of optimizing these attributes.

1. Sensitivity:

Sensitivity is regarded as a crucial biosensor characteristic. It is described as the correlation between the strength of the signal produced by the transducer and the change in analyte concentration. A biosensor's sensitivity or limit of detection (LOD) is determined by the lowest concentration of analyte that it is capable of detecting. A biosensor should ideally produce a signal in response to even slight variations in the target analyte's concentration. Biosensors are needed to detect analytes in the ng/ml or fg/ml concentration levels, depending on the application. Typically, this is significant for environmental monitoring and medical applications.

2. Selectivity:

The capacity of a bioreceptor to identify a particular analyte in a sample that contains other pollutants and admixtures is known as selectivity. A false positive result occurs when a signal or reaction is produced by interactions with an analyte that differs from the target analyte. This is typical of biosensors that perform poorly in clinical settings because of their low selectivity.

3. Stability:

The biosensing system's stability refers to how susceptible it is to external perturbations both inside and outside of it. This characteristic establishes how resistant the biosensor gadget is to changes in its functionality over time as a result of disruptions brought on by outside sources. These could take the shape of humidity, temperature, or other environmental factors. In situations where biosensors are employed for continuous monitoring, stability is the most important characteristic. The stability of a biosensor may be impacted by the temperature-sensitive response of transducers and electronics. As a result, proper electronics tuning is necessary to provide a steady sensor response. The degree to which the analyte binds to the bioreceptor, or its affinity, is another aspect that can affect stability.

4. Reproducibility

The biosensor's reproducibility is defined as its capacity to produce the same results for an identical experimental setup. The precision and accuracy of a biosensor's transducer and circuitry define its reproducibility. Accuracy refers to the sensor's ability to deliver a mean value that is reasonably close to the true value when a sample is measured more than once, while precision is the sensor's ability to produce identical findings each and every time a sample is measured. High reliability and robustness are offered by reproducible signals when drawing conclusions about a biosensor's reaction.

5. Detection limit

The lowest concentration of the target that can produce a detectable signal or reaction is known as the detection limit. A biosensor should ideally have the lowest detection limit possible, particularly if it will be utilized in medical applications where very low amounts of the target analyte may be present.

6. Linearity

In response to a series of measurements at varying concentrations, biosensor linearity calculates the accuracy of the signal obtained, which is expressed mathematically as y=mc, where m is the biosensor's sensitivity, y is the output signal, and c is the analyte concentration. The resolution and range of analyte concentrations under test can be linked to the biosensor's linearity. The smallest change in an analyte's concentration necessary to cause a change in the biosensor's response is known as the resolution of the biosensor. Depending on the use, a high resolution may be necessary because most biosensor applications call for measuring analyte concentrations over a broad operating range in addition to analyte detection. Linear range, which is the range of analyte concentrations for which the biosensor response varies linearly with concentration, is another word related to linearity.

7. Application

Samples for traditional "off-site" analysis must be sent to a lab for examination. These techniques yield the lowest detection limits and the highest quantification accuracy, but they are costly, time-consuming, and need highly skilled workers. The aforementioned disadvantages have sparked a lot of interest in biosensor technology. Recent years have seen a remarkable rise in the field of biosensor development, with new applications appearing across numerous disciplines. Biosensors have been discovered as a result of the necessity of monitoring critical processes and parameters in a variety of sectors. As shown, the introduction of these devices has addressed a number of applications, such as drug development, illness diagnosis, biomedicine, food processing and safety, environmental monitoring, defense, and security. It is utilized for the detection of numerous components, including contaminants, metabolites, microbial load, control parameters, and other chemicals, and has a wide range of biological applications.

It is also very applicable in the food sector, in clinical diagnostics, and in many other fields requiring accurate and exact analysis. Analytical tools called biosensors are employed to look into the existence of a target analyte in a sample. Biosensors are widely used in many different disciplines, including disease diagnosis and pollution biomonitoring. The most widely used biosensor for measuring blood glucose is the blood glucose biosensor.

Types of Biosensors:

Biosensors are classified into different groups depending on signal transductions given as follows:

Biosensors Based on Transduction Element

The kind of transduction element a biosensor uses determines the most often used classification for biosensors. The three primary categories of these biosensors are mass-based biosensors, optical-based biosensors, and electrochemical biosensors. Because the three biosensors have various operating principles, they can be used in a range of applications. A quick explanation of the many kinds of biosensors and how they function may be found below. Additionally, a few of the subclasses under the biosensor kinds will be discussed.

1. Piezoelectric Biosensors

They belong to the Mass-based Biosensors subclass. Because piezoelectric biosensors are based on the acoustic (or vibration of sound) basis, they are sometimes referred to as acoustic biosensors. A piezoelectric biosensor generates an electrical signal in response to mechanical stress. The biological components are affixed to the piezoelectric biosensor's surface. In essence, the piezoelectric biosensor is a mass to frequency converter that transforms the mechanical vibrations of the detecting molecules into electrical impulses that are proportionate.

2. Electrochemical Biosensors

The biological molecules are coated onto a probing surface in electrochemical biosensors. A non-interfering membrane helps to keep the sensor molecules in place. Subsequently, an electrical signal proportionate to the quantity being measured is produced by the sensing molecules in response to the substance to be detected. Different transducers, such as potentiometric, amperometric, and impedimetric ones, can be used by electrochemical biosensors to transform chemical data into a quantifiable electrical signal.

3. Optical Biosensors

The basis of optical biosensors is the way electromagnetic radiation interacts with a sensing element. They are made up of a light source, many optical parts that work together to create a beam of light with particular properties, a modified detecting head, a photodetector, and a modulating agent. Label-free and real-time detection of surface refractive index changes on sensor chips can be achieved using an optical surface plasmon resonance (SPR) biosensor. Fluorescence and surface plasmon resonance enabled spectroscopies continue to be the most extensively studied and used optical techniques, even though other techniques like absorption, fluorescence, luminescence, internal reflection, surface plasmon resonance, or light scattering spectroscopy used here are gaining popularity.

4. Immunosensors

They are frequently employed to identify the immunochemical reaction that takes place between antibodies and antigens. As a result, they are utilized as a diagnostic indicator for harmful chemicals and to find antibodies. They identify the antigens in the natural world and biological fluid. Any substance with strong selectivity and specificity against particular antibodies is detected by them.

5. DNA Sensors

DNA is the primary nucleic acid used in DNA sensors. These materials for sensing are the pieces that are sometimes referred to as DNA primers or DNA probes, and they represent the specificity of the entire DNA structure. The PCR (polymerase chain reaction) is used to amplify DNA in order to create these probes or primers [30]. They are altered to improve stability or make it easier to insert probes into biosensors. These kinds of biosensors aid in identifying protein and non-molecular substances that interact with particular DNA segments. They are categorized as nucleic acid-based, enzymatic, whole cell-based, antibody-based, or aptamer-based biosensors depending on the kind of biorecognition unit that is utilized.

Advantages of Biosensors:

  • Pregnancy tests and glucose monitoring sensors are the two main examples of extremely effective biosensor technologies.
  • Biosensors are now widely used in many sectors of healthcare.
  • For biosensors, a variety of transduction methods, including optical, acoustic, and electrochemical, can be employed.
  • The specificity of biosensors can be enhanced by coupling high-affinity reagents, such enzymes, antibodies, and synthetic biomolecules, to the transducer.
  • The recent progress in biosensing technology has been significantly influenced by nanotechnology.

Disadvantages of Biosensors:

  1. Determining which market is interested in a biosensor for a certain target analyte.
  2. One major problem with biosensors is contamination. Unwanted compounds are easy for them to take up, which might skew and reduce the accuracy of their measurements.
  3. The biosensor's response after six months of storage must be at least 50% for any feasible commercial use.
  4. The production of biosensors can be expensive. This is due to the fact that they frequently need expensive specialty materials and high-tech equipment.
  5. Risks and moral considerations related to using the created biosensor.


Biosensors continue to offer solutions and control of various processes across a range of applications. As technology advances, new methods that will result in the development of even better biosensors are emerging, and these seek to address all limitations associated with these devices. The development of biosensors revolves around their sensitivity, specificity, cost effectiveness and ability to detect small molecules. This is mostly determined by the right combination of a biological receptor and a transducer element, components which form the basis of a biosensor.

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