Biosensors continue to get smaller and faster with the advancement in nanotechnology through the use of nanomaterials to achieve high sensitivity and selectivity. However, the continued reliance on biomolecules or enzymes in the biosensor assembly poses the problem of reproducibility, storage and complexity. This dissertation research address some of the challenges by investigating the physiochemical properties of nanoparticles to understand its interaction with biological systems and develop enzyme free biosensors. In this study, we have demonstrated a novel strategy to integrate cerium oxide nanoparticles (CNPs) as an efficient transducer through rigorous screening for developing enzyme/label free biosensors for detecting analytes such as dopamine associated with neurodegenerative diseases and limonin for fruit quality management. CNPs have been proven to exhibit antioxidant properties attributed to its dynamic change in surface oxidation states (Ce4+ to Ce3+ and vice versa) mediated at the oxygen vacancies on the surface of the CNPs. It is also well-established that nanoparticles are resourceful novel materials with a plethora of applications in the field of nanomedicine. It is of significant importance to study the changes in physiochemical properties of different synthesized CNPs for effective use in biomedical applications. In one of the studies, the effects of different anions in the precursor of the cerium salts used for synthesizing CNPs using the same synthesis method, were extensively studied. It has been demonstrated that the physicochemical properties such as dispersion stability, hydrodynamic size, and the signature surface chemistry, antioxidant catalytic activity, oxidation potentials of different CNPs have been significantly altered with the change of anions in the precursor salts. . The increased antioxidant property of CNPs prepared using the precursor salts containing NO3¯ and Cl¯ ions have been extensively studied using in-situ UV-Visible spectroscopy which reveal that the change in oxidation potentials of CNPs with the change in concentration of anions. Thus, this work demonstrated that the physicochemical and antioxidant properties of CNPs can be tuned by anions of the precursor during the synthesis process. After standardizing the synthesis process, CNPs have been immobilized on highly ordered polymer nanopillars to develop an optical sensor for dopamine detection. Dopamine, is one of the main neurotransmitters which plays a significant role in central nervous system and its deficiency leads to neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia etc. Current biosensors in the literature use invasive detection techniques and lacks sensitivity to detect physiological clinically relevant concentrations of dopamine. The interaction between CNPs and dopamine have been extensively studied using UV-visible spectro-electrochemical studies to achieve the right surface chemistry (35-70% Ce4+). The sensor exhibits high sensitivity (1fM detection in simulated body fluid), high selectivity (in acetic acid, sheep plasma) and increased robustness with several cycles of usage. Furthermore, we have developed a CNPs based biosensor by integrating it on a transistor platform for improved sensitivity and better adhesion by immobilizing in silk fibroin matrix. In the final study, CNPs integrated in silk fibroin (SF) polymer electrospun nanofibers incorporated on an organic electrochemical transistor platform, is used to develop a limonin sensor. It has been established that the concentration of limonin in citric fruit predicts the quality in terms of bitter taste from the HLB bacteria infected fruits. A unique in-house electrospinning set-up using drum as collector was used to develop SF (extracted from cocoon) nanofibers used as CNP (synthesized in-situ in fibers) transducer carrier, both of which have a specific interaction with limonin. This novel biosensor has exhibited high sensitivity (100nM in PBS) and selectivity (citric acid, sugar etc.) with improved robustness in terms of reuse. The broader impact of the study is to develop holistic diagnostic non-invasive biosensors that can directly be used to detect the analytes using samples from humans and/or on field for fruit quality determination, which is a huge stepping stone in the advancement of nanotechnology based biosensors. This will fuel future generation of enzyme free biosensors which can utilize similar concepts for the detection of other analytes. The biosensor could be printed on a flexible substrate to advance wearable smart biosensor and could eventually enable users to wirelessly monitor the analyte concentrations using smartphones.

Graduation Date





Seal, Sudipta


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Materials Science Engineering

Degree Program

Materials Science and Engineering









Release Date

November 2020

Length of Campus-only Access

3 years

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)