Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department / School

Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

First Advisor

Zhengrong Gu


Biosensors, Electrochemistry


Electrochemical biosensors are a rapidly growing research area that has greatly improved its specificity, accuracy, and precision in the detection of biomolecules in contemporary literature and industry alike. Typically, these systems exist in a three-electrode conformation with a working electrode functioning as the anode, a counter electrode functioning as the cathode, and a reference electrode allowing for the control of potential in the system. The method by which these sensors work is through the sharing of electrons via redox reactions with the target molecule and the working electrode or modifications on its surface. By exploiting the function of biomaterials that participate in natural substrate-binding redox phenomena, new opportunities for detecting critical molecules in complex situations can be created. In this dissertation, three distinct electrochemical biosensors were created by mimicking natural phenomena and implementing materials that directly or indirectly participate in the corresponding reactions. First, a dopamine sensor was created via a composite of lignin-derived graphene oxide and the marine algae-derived polysaccharide kappa carrageenan. Different ratios of GO, a known electrooxidizing catalyst of dopamine, with kappa carrageenan were used to create a binder-free film for dropcasting on the working electrode. It was designed on the principle of its interactions with the nervous system when injected in rats to induce analgesia, interfering with standard dopamine behavior. The system demonstrated a linear range of 1 - 250 μmol L-1 and a limit of detection of 0.14 μmol L-1 (s/n=3). In the second chapter, a sensor for the human and animal health hazard nitrite was constructed using the transition metal sulfide NiS. Transition metal sulfides are the catalytic center for nitrite oxidation to nitrate in nitrogen fixing bacteria found in the environment. This section utilized a novel electrodeposition method for creating a binderfree layer of NiS on the surface of the glassy carbon electrode. This system demonstrated a linear range of 0.04 – 1 μM, 1 – 5.3 μM and a detection limit of 0.01 μM. For the final chapter, a novel sensor was created for the cryoprotective sugar trehalose, an indicator of bacterial contamination in meat and produce without any electrochemical assay precedent. This system utilized the interactions found between alkali earth metal ions and trehalose in which the two molecules form complexes. Magnesium phthalocyanine, which is a commercially available dye, as well as synthesized magnesium tetraphenylporphyrin and calcium tetraphenylporphyrin were implemented as drop-casted coatings on the working electrode to electrodeposit trehalose on the surface and detect its oxidation via squarewave anodic stripping voltammetry in the complex media Luria-Bertani broth. The system was also used to gauge fluctuations in E. coli in broth by autoclaving the cultures and directly testing the media containing lysed bacteria. The system demonstrated a linear range of 0.25 mM – 100 mM, with magnesium mesotetraphenylporphyrin exhibiting the highest repeatability.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Electrochemical sensors.

Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright