Electrochemical biosensor for the detection and quantification of alkylphenols.

  • uacoopera
  • From Portugal
  • Responsive
  • Patents for licensing

Summary of the technology

A group of researchers from Portuguese university developed a biosensor for the detection and quantification of alkylphenols (AP).
This invention constitutes a fast, efficient and accurate method for the quantification of these contaminants, found in items ranging from detergents and pesticides to plastics, textiles and fuels.
The apparatus has already been successfully tested in real samples and demonstrated to be faster and more efficient than the commonly used techniques for the quantification of AF, not requiring additional steps, namely, for sample preparation.

New and innovative aspects

When compared to existing technologies, the method has the following advantages:

  1. Low sample volume (<1mL);
  2. No sample preparation requirements;
  3. The apparatus can potentially be used in situ, without the need for laboratorial testing;
  4. Contrary to other techniques, such as GC-MS and HPLC/LC-MS, the analysis takes only a few minutes.

The limits of detection and/or quantification are identical or considerably improved compared to those pertaining to the aforementioned techniques. 


The ubiquity of alkylphenols (AP) entails their constant monitoring and analysis, but in general, the techniques currently used for their quantification are based in methods which require extensive sample preparation, are very expensive and their use requires the presence of specific equipment for this purpose.

Therefore the proposed sensors are based on a network of single-walled carbon nanotubes functionalized with a highly specific anti-AF antibody, which is at the core of the AP quantification reaction. This quantification is determined as a function of the changes in the electrical current, which varied not only according to the presence or absence of these compounds, but also in proportion to their concentration. This technology allows for the straightforward and relatively low-cost replacement of other techniques used for the detection and quantification of AF, namely, high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC), HPLC coupled to mass spectrometry (LC-MS) and gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (GC-MS). This technology has potential applications in both environmental and industrial settings, namely, in the food sector. 


- Environmental applications: fast and accurate in situ monitoring of AF.

- Industrial applications: quality control, for the detection and quantification of AF, namely, in food products, and, more specifically, in liquid products.

- This technology could easily be adapted and implemented for the detection and quantification of numerous other contaminants/pollutants. 

Intellectual property status

Pending patent.

Current development status

Tested at laboratorial scale for the detection and quantification of alquiphenols. Available for presentation. 

Desired business relationship

The university aims to license this technology to companies with development or production and marketing capacity of sensors for the development of business solutions based on the technology. The university is also available to participate in this development through a joint venture project or its subcontracting.

Related Keywords

  • Micro- and Nanotechnology related to Biological sciences
  • Biobased Materials related to Industrial Biotechnology
  • Biopolymers
  • Industrial Water Treatment
  • Municipal Water Treatment
  • Wastewater Recycling
  • Chemicals and Materials
  • Water treatment equipment and waste disposal systems
  • Other Industrial Products (not elsewhere classified)
  • Micro- and Nanotechnology related to Biological sciences

About uacoopera

The University of Aveiro is a young and innovative university, which fosters entrepreneurship and technology and knowledge transfer, with expertise in a wide range of knowledge areas namely IT, Life Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Health, Environmental Sciences), Nanotechnology and Materials Science, Mechanics, Physics, Mathematics, Building, Design and Management. uacoopera is the Technology Transfer Office of University of Aveiro. This office engages in value adding activities such as start-up and spin-off creation, support to university-industry cooperation (sponsored research and consultancy services), IP protection and prosecution, licensing, marketing, among others. It covers four main interrelated functional areas – Intellectual Property Management, Licensing, Entrepreneurship, and Industry Liaison.


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