Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Dr. Yi Xiao

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Dr. John Berry

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Dr. Jin He

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Dr. Rudolf Jaffé

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fifth Advisor's Name

Dr. Bruce McCord

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


Paper-based sensor, Guanine, Platinum nanoparticle, Gold Nanoparticle, Carbon Nanotube, Methanol, DNA, Electrochemical sensor, Colorimetric Sensor

Date of Defense



Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) are widely used for sensing applications due to their distinctive electrical and optical properties, and we have explored the development of methods that enable the incorporation of these nanomaterials into new and improved sensing devices.

As a means for fabricating simple, low-cost and fast detection platforms for various applications, we have developed paper-based electrochemical detection platforms based on CNTs or platinum nanoparticle (PtNP)-CNT composite materials. We describe the use of a paper-based, low density, a three-dimensional thin film of interconnected CNTs as an electrode material. We studied the electrochemical properties of these paper-based CNT electrodes and demonstrated their use as an electrochemical sensor for the sensitive detection of guanine-based nucleotides. We further describe the functionalization of this paper-based electrode by fabricating a PtNP-SWCNT hybrid film via a vacuum filtration-based method. The interconnected PtNP structure formed on top of the CNT-coated paper was directly used as an electrocatalyst for methanol oxidation. Compared to paper-based PtNP-SWCNT hybrid films formed by electrochemical deposition, hybrid films formed by vacuum filtration showed a higher electrochemical surface area and enhanced electrocatalytic response to methanol oxidation.

We have also developed methods based around DNA-modified AuNPs, which offer an excellent colorimetric platform for target detection. The DNA density on the surface of modified AuNPs affects enzymatic activity, colloidal stability of AuNPs, the orientation of the probe DNA and its hybridization efficiency. The combination of all these factors ultimately dictates the reaction time and sensitivity of colorimetric assays. We demonstrate the use of DTT as a modulator to control DNA surface coverage on the surface of AuNPs. Using this DTT treatment and a novel probe for exonuclease III activity, we have developed a colorimetric assay based on DTT-treated, DNA-modified AuNPs that can achieve more sensitive and rapid detection of DNA and enzymes relative to existing sensor platforms.





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