Direct Detection of Uranyl in Urine by Dissociation from Aptamer-Modified Nanosensor Arrays

Reut Meir, Marina Zverzhinetsky, Nimrod Harpak, Ella Borberg, Larisa Burstein, Offer Zeiri, Vadim Krivitsky, Fernando Patolsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An ever-growing demand for uranium in various industries raises concern for human health of both occupationally exposed personnel and the general population. Toxicological effects related to uranium (natural, enriched, or depleted uranium) intake involve renal, pulmonary, neurological, skeletal, and hepatic damage. Absorbed uranium is filtered by the kidneys and excreted in the urine, thus making uranium detection in urine a primary indication for exposure and body burden assessment. Therefore, the detection of uranium contamination in bio-samples (urine, blood, saliva, etc.,) is of crucial importance in the field of occupational exposure and human health-related applications, as well as in nuclear forensics. However, the direct determination of uranium in bio-samples is challenging because of "ultra-low"concentrations of uranium, inherent matrix complexity, and sample diversity, which pose a great analytical challenge to existing detection methods. Here, we report on the direct, real-time, sensitive, and selective detection of uranyl ions in unprocessed and undiluted urine samples using a uranyl-binding aptamer-modified silicon nanowire-based field-effect transistor (SiNW-FET) biosensor, with a detection limit in the picomolar concentration range. The aptamer-modified SiNW-FET presented in this work enables the simple and sensitive detection of uranyl in urine samples. The experimental approach has a straight-forward implementation to other metals and toxic elements, given the availability of target-specific aptamers. Combining the high surface-to-volume ratio of SiNWs, the high affinity and selectivity of the uranyl-binding aptamer, and the distinctive sensing methodology gives rise to a practical platform, offering simple and straightforward sensing of uranyl levels in urine, suitable for field deployment and point-of-care applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12528-12537
Number of pages10
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number18
StatePublished - 15 Sep 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Direct Detection of Uranyl in Urine by Dissociation from Aptamer-Modified Nanosensor Arrays'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this