Research Highlight

Graphene-based sensor removes bacteria from food, water

doi:10.1038/nindia.2016.168 Published online 24 December 2016

Researchers have created a cost-effective, fast and sensitive sensor that can capture and kill pathogenic bacteria such as Escherichia coli1. This could be potentially useful in removing bugs from contaminated food and water.

Food- and water-borne bacteria are a constant battle for food industries as well as consumers. Current methods for detecting such pathogens are slow and expensive. 

In search of a simple and cheap method, chemists from Indian School of Mines in Dhanbad fabricated a sensor by depositing a nanocomposite of graphene oxide and bimetallic nanoparticles on a bacteria-imprinted polymeric platform. They then tested the efficiency of the sensor to capture and kill E. coli in water samples.

The sensor detected extremely low concentrations of the bacteria and was able to capture more than 98% of the bacteria from the water samples. The sensor also killed the bacteria by using laser-light-induced heat within five minutes.

Researchers say the sensor is a promising tool for specific and quantitative detection, removal as well as the destruction of a variety of bacterial pathogens in real food and water samples.


1. Roy, E. et al. Single cell imprinting on the surface of Ag–ZnO bimetallic nanoparticle modified graphene oxide sheets for targeted detection, removal and photothermal killing of E. coliBiosens. Bioelectron. 89,620-626 (2017)