A biosensor is a device that uses a biological element (e.g., enzyme, antibody, whole cell, etc.) to monitor the presence of various chemicals on a substrate by enabling highly specific interactions between biological molecules to be detected and utilized. Typically antibodies or enzymes are coupled to microelectronics to enable their interactions with the substances of interest to be monitored. The ability of biomolecules to react with very low concentrations of substances allows biosensors to be used in various applications such as the monitoring of pollutants in water, air, and soil, and in the detection of medically important molecules such as hormones, sugars, and peptides in body fluids.
The sensing part of a biosensor consists of a biological element, which is the bio-receptor, having remarkable properties concerning the specific molecular recognition of a target analyte as shown in Figure 15.1. The biological element is closely associated with a transducer that converts the physicochemical signal occurring during the molecular recognition phenomenon into an electrical signal.
In a biosensor, the biological element acts as an extremely selective filter compared to a chemical system. This makes the biosensor a powerful tool when a high selectivity is needed.
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