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Biological microsensor

Biological microsensor is a device which is used to produce an electrical signal in response to some biological action (Turner, Wilson, & Kaube,2000). It is made up of two things:

  • Transducer

Transducer is known to be a device that converts different types of energies to other forms of energies. The results are shown on another device. Biosensor can be classified on the basis of the bio transducer used. Some of the types are as follows:

  1. Electrochemical
  2. Optical
  3. Electronic
  4. Pyroelectric
  • Biological Component

A biological component can be of many types:

  1. Antibody

This can be made by biological engineering also. A biological component acts as a sensor. When it comes in contact with the subject, it sends signals. The signal can be in electrical or thermal form. The transducer then converts this signal into a form that can be measured in voltage. One of the most major components is that it needs to be selective for the analyte (Neoflex, 2015).

Antibodies when used as a sensor works exactly like a lock and key model. The antibodies bind only to specific antigens. However, there are a few limitations while using antibodies as sensors. These are as follows:

  • The capacity of an antibody for binding depends on pH level and temperature
  • The binding of an antibody with an antigen cannot be reversed
  • The antibodies are not stable and have high molecular weight(Marazuela & Moreno-Bondi, 2002)

To overcome these limitations and boundaries, artificial binding proteins have been made. The properties favorable are retained from the original product while the needed ones are added to the artificial products. These have higher stability and thus are better as compared to the antibodies.(Skrlec, Strukelj, & Berlec, 2015)

  1. Nucleic Acid

The biosensors that use nucleic acid are called genosensors. This process includes base pairing in DNA. Once it is identified, synthesis occurs. An optical signal is given to the transducer that converts this signal into a measurable form.

  1. Enzyme

Enzymes are very popular in this field. They interact with the analyte in the following ways:

  • Enzyme converts the analyte in a product that can be detected
  • By activating the analyte
  • Enzyme may change its properties to interact with the analyte(Micro bIo Sensors, 2015)


  1. Tissue

Tissue can be used instead of enzymes because of its numerous advantages. Some are as follows:

  • They are cheap and can be easily bought
  • They can be immobilized with ease
  • They are stable
  • The enzymes need to be centrifuged and purified before use but tissue does not require such task
  • Tissue are available in many varieties(Campàs, Carpentier, & Rouillon, 2008)

However, there is a disadvantage that tissues are highly specific. They also face the problem of taking long before responding due to transport barriers.

  1. Organelles

These are present independently. The organelles have many metabolic pathways. They also contain enzymes. Chloroplast, mitochondria, and lysosome are mostly used in this field. Mitochondria is used to check calcium concentration and water pollution.


  1. Cells

Cells are used because of their sensitivity. They can be easily immobilized because of their attachment to the surface. They can be reproduced so can be used again and again. Cells are used to detect stress, toxicity, and organic derivatives. We can see the effectiveness of a drug by using cells in a biological microsensor. There are a few herbicides which contaminate the aquatic life. Cells have an application in this field too. The response time can be controlled for five minutes.(Dubey & Upadhyay, 2001)

The first ever experiment on biosensor was done by Leland C. Clark. He used platinum electrodes. The platinum electrodes were used to detect oxygen. The enzyme was used as a biological component in this experiment. The enzyme chosen was glucose oxidase (GOD). The concentration of oxygen in the environment determines the enzyme activity. Glucose has the affinity to react with this enzyme. It gives off two electrons and two protons. These two react with reduced glucose oxidase and the oxygen in the environment to give original GOD and hydrogen peroxide. This proves that when the glucose level is high, the consumption of oxygen is more, whereas when the glucose level lowers, hydrogen peroxide is consumed more. So, the level of glucose can be detected by the varying concentrations of oxygen and hydrogen peroxide.

Description (Advantages and Disadvantages)

Everything has its pros and cons, so is the case with biological microsensors.


  • Quick Measurement:

Biological microsensors can measure very quickly. The biological component senses and the transducer converts the signal into electrical signal. The final value is obtained to reach to a conclusion. (Thomas, 2015)

  • Constant Measurement:

The results are obtained continuously. There is no stop or delay during the procedure. The quick and prompt response combined with non-stop results makes the biological microsensors great.

  • Highly Specific:

Biological microsensors are highly specific. There are many different types of sensors each used for specific analyte. Just like a specific lock opens a specific key, a specific type of biological microsensor work on a specific analyte.

  • Quick Reaction:

The reaction is pretty fast. The biological element quickly senses and sends the response to the transducer which quickly reacts to give a result. (Biological microsensors for marine and environmental applications, 2016)

  • Measurement of Non-Polar Molecules:

Non-Polar molecules cannot be measured by other devices. However, these specially designed microsensors have the ability to measure such molecules.

  • Lesser Items Needed for Measurement:

The process is simple. There are just two items by which a biological microsensor is made. The number of items required for the procedure is less.

  • Long Time Use:

Tissue material can be used for a longer period of time. As mentioned above, they have many advantages as compared to enzymes. They also prove to be cheaper.

  • Detection of Harmful Algae:

Harmful algae can prove to be dangerous for marine life. This can be a big loss for people who deal in this business. Tourism may be affected if the marine life is disturbed. However, the biological microsensors have struck off this problem.(BioSensors, 2016)


  • Usage of Enzyme is Expensive:

The usage of enzyme as a biological component is very expensive. The extraction and then purification of the enzyme is a long process which needs lot of expenses. In bigger experiments, some other biological element should be used to lower the expenses. So, instead tissue is used which is cheaper as the method of extraction and purification is not involved.

  • Low Specificity and Response Time of Tissue:

As mentioned above, the enzyme is very expensive. Consequently, another component i.e. the tissue is used. Tissue has many advantages over enzyme but unlike enzyme it is not very specific. Enzymes are the proteins which are rated very high due to their specificity. However, in the case of tissue the specificity is compromised. The response time which is a big advantage of a biological microsensor is low in the case of tissue (Berry, 2015). This is because the analyte needs to be transported in the cytoplasm. This delays the response time greatly.

  • Antibody-Antigen Process Cannot be Reversed:

Once the antibody and antigen connection has been made, it requires harsh conditions to reverse the process. In most conditions, it is nearly impossible. So, the microsensor can be used only once. This is why this process is not very effective.


The overall idea of biological microsensors is amazing and impressive. They can have numerous effect on the biology field in the coming future. The quick and rapid measurement and response time will give us prompt and better results. Although, there are some drawbacks of this technology but with time and experience those problems can be eliminated. The scientists must be working to eliminate the problem of enzyme and tissue which is a major disappointment in this field. Its numerous applications can prove to be revolutionary for the medical field making everything quick. The biological microsensors are highly specific which makes it even more interesting (Black, 2010). The two items that make them are very complex and unique in character. The choice of a biological component depends on our need. It is a very important and difficult process at the same time. Different elements give different results depending on the type of experiment. The history of the biological microsensor shows how things go in this procedure and how quick and efficient the response is. The biosensors are of many types and they are classified because of the transducer used in them.  Some of the most common types are: Electrochemical biosensors, Optical biosensors, Electronic biosensors, Pyroelectric biosensors. The transducer has the main function of converting the signal and sending it to another device to obtain the measurable form. Different types of biological components are used like tissue, cell, organelles, antibody, enzyme, nucleic acid, lectins, micro-organisms etc. Each one of them is highly specific. They have many advantages but at the same time some disadvantages too. The biological component used is first immobilized and then it interacts with the transducer. Analyte may be converted to some product too after the conversion of the signal by the transducer. The specification is one of the major things in the biosensor. It is preferred a lot due to its specificity. When the enzyme is used as a biological component, the major concern is that the enzyme stays stable. Although, enzyme has many other advantages but this stability problem is a big lapse. A biosensor should be able to repeat. It should have constantly changing range. The enzyme used as a biological component may prove to be very expensive (Atay, Seda, Kevser Pi?kin, Fatma Y?lmaz, Canan Çak?r, Handan Yavuz, and Adil Denizli, 2016). The enzyme before use needs extraction and purification. So, this is why tissue is preferred over enzyme. Firstly, tissue is stable and secondly it is cheap.


The research was based on biological micro sensor which is a device used to produce an electrical signal in response to some biological action. There are numerous advantages and disadvantages of biosensors. This is a new technology so there are some faults and drawbacks otherwise this can prove a revolution in the field of medicine. The quick and prompt response by a micro sensor adds great value to this technology. Its simple design and cheap price has been forcing many people to indulge and do research on it. There are two things which make a biological micro sensor i.e. transducer and biological component. The importance of choosing the right biological component is immense. Every biological element has its own uses and importance. The most widely used ones are the enzymes (Kevin Lewandowski, 2015). They have many advantages but on the other hand a few disadvantages too but there is another element known as tissue which is a better choice. Both of them are used now-a-days. Other biological components like cells, organelles, nucleic acids, antibody are also used  One of the major problems faced in the field of medicine is the long time required to obtain tests. Some methods are slow while other are expensive. However, a biological micro sensor can prove to solve all the problems. If we consider the drawbacks and the problems, there are present everywhere and there is always a room of improvement. While talking about the technology, new things which are invented always add in the ideas and theories of the past, hence resulting in revolutionary inventions. The work of the past scientists is always used by the next ones to enhance the previous invented technology. The biological micro sensors can work on extensive field in the medical field. They can provide better results in almost every field starting from glucose levels to the harmful algae in marine water.


  • The usage of the biological component should be made easy. The problems can be fixed by improving the speed of tissues.
  • The biological microsensors are not very common. They have huge benefits so they should be made available to medical institutions to enhance the speed of work.
  • The enzyme specificity is a massive benefit. However, the enzyme is expensive. Researches done on this problem can prove revolutionary in this field.
  • Antibody-Antigen complex can be made possible to work by increasing its specificity.


Atay, Seda, Kevser Pi?kin, Fatma Y?lmaz, Canan Çak?r, Handan Yavuz, and Adil Denizli. (2016). Quartz Crystal Microbalance Based Biosensors for Detecting Highly Metastatic Breast Cancer Cells via Their Transferrin Receptors.

Berry, V. (2015). Graphene Thought to create Biological microsensors. nanomedicine. Retrieved from http://www.medgadget.com/2009/04/graphene_thought_to_create_biological_microsensor.html

(2016). Biological microsensors for marine and environmental applications. National Oceangraphy Center.

(2016). BioSensors. Nature.com. Retrieved from http://www.nature.com/subjects/biosensors

Black, J. G. (2010). Principles and explorations.

Campàs, M., Carpentier, R., & Rouillon, R. (2008). Plant tissue-and photosynthesis-based biosensors". Biotechnology Advances.

Dubey, R. S., & Upadhyay, S. N. (2001). Microbial corrosion monitoring by an amperometric microbial biosensor developed using whole cell of Pseudomonas .

Kevin Lewandowski. (2015). Latest Bio Sensors Technology.

Marazuela, M., & Moreno-Bondi, M. (2002). Fiber-optic biosensors – an overview". Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry. 660.

Micro bIo Sensors. (2015). Retrieved from http://mspde.usc.edu/inspiring/resource/sensor/Microsensors.pdf

Neoflex. (2015). Micro BioSensors International. BioSensors International. Retrieved from http://www.biosensors.com/intl/

Shruthi GS1, A. C. (n.d.). Biosensors: A Modern Day Achievement. Retrieved from http://pubs.sciepub.com/jit/2/1/5/#

Skrlec, K., Strukelj, B., & Berlec, A. T. (2015). Non-immunoglobulin scaffolds: a focus on their targets". . 450.

Thomas, A. A. (2015). Biosensor Technology: Advantages and Applications.

Turner, A., Wilson, G., & Kaube, I. (2000). Biosensors:Fundamentals and Applications. Oxford, UK. UK.

Author :Center for Recent Innovations - European Union
Pulished date: 10-11-16
Springer with the Collaboration of LearnRnd
Source URL:http://www.learnrnd.com/detail.php?id=Biological_microsensor

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