The year was 2012. The setting was the Graphene 2012 conference in Brussels. Prof. Mildred S. Dresselhaus, “the queen of carbon science”, urged those present to take care with what they were calling ‘graphene’. It turns out that what scientists were working with in different laboratories around the world was in fact a whole family of materials with a range of different characteristics. This call to attention inspired efforts to develop a specific nomenclature and classification for 2D carbon materials, based mainly on their degree of oxidation, lateral size and number of layers. And because naming something has the power to focus and redirect our thinking, a whole body of research emerged exploring these and other features in different contexts.
This overview by Prof. Eden Morales-Narváez, formerly of the ICN2 and now head of the Biophotonic Nanosensors Laboratory at Center for Research in Optics (Mexico), and ICREA Prof. Arben Merkoçi, leader of the ICN2 NanoBioelectronics and Biosensors Group, focuses on how recent advances in our understanding and ability to control these features in graphene oxide have impacted on this material’s overall performance as an optical biosensing platform. It also covers the new applications enabled in label-free optical techniques and the integration of GO-based biosensors into the solid phase, developments barely considered just six years ago when their first review was published.
Indeed, Graphene Oxide as an Optical Biosensing Platform: a Progress Report (2018) paints an attractive picture of a future where graphene oxide-based sensors will contribute to more efficient devices with simplified manufacturing processes and greater applicability. Wearable technologies, flexible devices, super sensitive biosensors that can be connected up to mobile phones and used in situ and in real time to detect even tiny concentrations of analyte. It also identifies key areas where international research has yet to venture very far, for instance in light-activated or light-based therapy and diagnostics, while also pointing to the combination of graphene derivatives with other 2D materials like molybdenum disulfide, hexagonal boron nitride and black phosphorus as a little-tapped source of breakthroughs in optical biosensing.