Highly Sensitive DNA Sensor Based on Upconversion Nanoparticles and Graphene Oxide

P. Alonso-Cristobal, P. Vilela, A. H. El-Sagheer, E. Lopez-Cabarcos, T. Brown, O. L. Muskens, J. Rubio-Retama and A. G. Kanaras. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2015.


In this work we demonstrate a DNA biosensor based on fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) between NaYF4:Yb,Er nanoparticles and graphene oxide (GO). Monodisperse NaYF4:Yb,Er nanoparticles with a mean diameter of 29.1 ± 2.2 nm were synthesized and coated with a SiO2 shell of 11 nm, which allowed the attachment of single strands of DNA. When these DNA-functionalized NaYF4:Yb,[email protected] nanoparticles were in the proximity of the GO surface, the ?–? stacking interaction between the nucleobases of the DNA and the sp2 carbons of the GO induced a FRET fluorescence quenching due to the overlap of the fluorescence emission of the NaYF4:Yb,[email protected] and the absorption spectrum of GO. By contrast, in the presence of the complementary DNA strands, the hybridization leads to double-stranded DNA that does not interact with the GO surface, and thus the NaYF4:Yb,[email protected] nanoparticles remain unquenched and fluorescent. The high sensitivity and specificity of this sensor introduces a new method for the detection of DNA with a detection limit of 5 pM.