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Detecting the binding of a target analyte with a (bio)chemically sensitive surface so as to generate a measurable electrochemical or optical signal, even when the concentration is low (<1 nM), is at the core of integrated sample-to-answer sensor systems. This objective can be delivered through novel materials and combinations of electrochemical and photo-physical approaches so as to detect low concentrations of targets in sample volumes within short periods of time. These materials include conducting and metallo- polymers, self-assembled monolayers, transition metal complexes and plasmonic composites that show an enhanced electrochemical or photonic signal upon interaction with the biomarker of interest. Targets include proteins, amino acids, DNA, peptides and antibodies.

Key techniques:

  • Electrochemistry
  • Electrochemiluminescence (ECL)
  • Micro and nanoelectrodes
  • Confocal fluorescence microscopy
  • Metal enhanced fluorescence
  • Raman microscopy
  • Raman spectroscopy
  • Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS)
  • Scanning electron microscopy (SEM)
  • Monolayer and thin film formation
  • Antibody labelling

  • Detection and Live-Cell Imaging of a Micro-RNA Associated with the Cancer Neuroblastoma, Eoin Brennan, Roisin Moriarty, Tia E Keyes and Robert J. Forster, Bioconjug. Chem. 2016, In press.

  • Detection of prostate specific antigen based on electrocatalytic platinum nanoparticles conjugated to a recombinant scFv antibody. Spain, E., Gilgunn, S., Sharma, S., Adamson, K., Carthy, E., O'Kennedy, R., Forster, R.J. Biosensors and Bioelectronics, 77, 2016, 759 – 766. doi:10.1016/j.bios.2015.10.058

  • Electrochemiluminescent Array to Detect Oxidative Damage in dsDNA using [Os(bpy)2(phen-benz-COOH)]2+/Nafion/Graphene films, I. Bist, B. Song, I. M. Mosa, T. E. Keyes, A. Martin, R. J. Forster, and J. F. Rusling, ACS Sens., 2016 1 (3), 272-278, DOI: 10.1021/acssensors.5b00189.

  • Direct, non-amplified detection of microRNA-134 in plasma from epilepsy patients, E. Spain, E. M. Jimenez-Mateosa, R. Raoofa, H. El Naggara, N. Delanty, R. J. Forster, D. C. Henshall, RSC Adv., 2015, 5, 90071-90078. DOI: 10.1039/C5RA16352H

  • Electrochemiluminescence platform for the detection of C-reactive proteins: application of recombinant antibody technology to cardiac biomarker detection, E. J. O'Reilly, P. J. Conroy, S. Hearty, T. E. Keyes, R. O'Kennedy, R. J. Forster, RSC Advances, 2015, 5 (83), 67874-67877. DOI: 10.1039/C5RA08450D

  • Peptide-Bridged Dinuclear Ru(II) Complex for Mitochondrial Targeted Monitoring of Dynamic Changes to Oxygen Concentration and ROS Generation in Live Mammalian Cells, A. Martin, A. Byrne, C. S. Burke, R. J. Forster, and T. E. Keyes, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2014, 136(43), 15300–15309. DOI: 10.1021/ja508043q
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Prof. Robert Forster B.Sc., Ph.D. (DCU), C.Chem
Professor, Physical Chemistry

Robert Forster holds the Chair of Physical Chemistry within the School of Chemical Sciences at Dublin City University and is the Director of the National Centre for Sensor research. He has served as DCU Dean of Research and Associate Dean of the Faculty of Science and Health with responsibility for research. He is the author/co-author of more than 230 manuscripts and reviews and has been a Visiting Scientist to the California Institute of Technology and the University of California at Berkeley. He received the President’s Research Award and was the first Irish based electrochemist to present a lecture at the Gordon Research Conference on Electrochemistry. He has contributed invited articles to more than eight Festschrift Issues celebrating the accomplishments of distinguished international scientists. Forster’s research focuses on the creation of novel materials that have useful electronic or photonic properties because they are highly ordered on the molecular length scale. These materials, that include surface active transition metal complexes, metallopolymers and micro-/nanocavity arrays and metal nanoparticle composites. These materials are rationally designed for applications in molecule-based electronics, display devices and have produced sensors with attomolar limits of detection.

His group have produced some of the world’s smallest and most rapidly responding ultramicroelectrodes with response times as short as 5 nanoseconds, i.e., more than 100,000 times shorter than conventional systems. These electrodes have been used to directly probe the electron transfer dynamics of electronically excited species using megavolt per second cyclic voltammetry for the first time and to develop ultralow volume nucleic acid sensors.