Superior sensing performance of multi-walled carbon nanotube-based electrodes to detect unconjugated bilirubin
The direct electrochemical behaviour of bilirubin in the physio-pathological concentration range and at physio- logical pH was investigated by cyclic voltammetry. Nanostructured electrodes with a thin film of multi-walled carbon nanotubes exhibited a higher sensing performance than bare electrodes. The detection limit obtained with nanostructured electrodes (4.2 ± 0.1 μM) allows the detection of both normal and pathological levels of bilirubin. Due to its sparse solubility in aqueous solvents, in human fluids bilirubin is found in the form of soluble complex with albumin. Therefore, the nanostructured-sensor response was studied in presence of different con- centrations of this protein. A signal weakening was observed with increasing concentrations of albumin due to the decrease of free bilirubin. Finally, bilirubin detection was tested at concentrations typical of newborn jaundice (200–500 μM) and in the presence of normal albumin levels. A detection limit of 9.4 ± 0.3 μM was identified. Since this value is below the minimum critical bilirubin concentration for newborns, our sensor, modified with a thin film of carbon nanotubes, could potentially be used for bilirubin detection in cases of newborn jaundice.