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Biosensors
A biosensor is an analytical device which employs a biological material to specifically interact with an analyte; this interaction produces some detectable physical change which is measured and converted into an electrical signal by a transducer. Finally, the electrical signal is amplified, interpreted and displayed as analyte concentration in the solution/preparation. An analyte is a compound whose concentration is to be determined, in this case, by the biosensor. The biological materials used are usually enzymes, but nucleic acids, antibodies, lectins, whole cells, entire organs or tissue slices are also used. The nature of interaction between the analyte and the biological material used in the biosensor may be of two types: (i) the analyte may be converted into a new chemical molecule (by enzymes; such bio-sensors are called catalytic bio-sensors), and (ii) the analyte may simply bind to the biological material present on the biosensor (e.g. to antibodies, nucleic acids, these biosensors are known as affinity biosensors).

A successful biosensor must have atleast some of the following features: (i) it should be highly specific for the analyte, (ii) the reaction used should be as independent of factors like stirring, pH temperature etc. as is manageable, (iii) the response should be linear over a useful range of analyte concentrations, (iv) the device should be tiny and bio-compatible, in case it is to be used for analyses within the body, (v) the device should be cheap, small and easy to use, and (vi) it should be durable, i.e. should  be capable of repeated use.

General features

A biosensor has two distinct types of components: (i) biological, e.g. enzyme antibody etc. and (ii) physical e.g. transducer, amplifier etc. The biological component of biosensor performs two key functions: (i) it specifically recognizes the analyte, (ii) interacts with it in such a manner which produces some physical change detectable by the transducer. These properties of the biological component impart on the biosensor its specificity, sensitivity and the ability to detect and measure the analyte. The biological component is suitably immobilized on to the transducer. Enzymes are usually immobilized by glutaraldehyde on a porous sheet like lens tissue paper or nylon net fabric; the enzyme-membrane so produced is affixed to the transducer. Generally, correct immobilization of enzymes enhances their stability, which may be rather dramatic in some cases. As a result, many enzyme-immobilized systems can be used more than 10,000 times over a period of several months.

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