The University of Southampton

ELEC6210 Biosensors

Module Overview

Biosensors combine the typical advantages of electronics and optics (high speed, micro/nanoscale fabrication, etc) with the unique recognition properties of biomolecules, which can electively bind their target molecule even at a high background concentration of similar molecules. A generic biosensor consists of a transducer and a biomolecular interface: the analytes bind to the interface and the transducer transmits this binding event, for example as an electrical signal. ELEC6210 starts with a brief recap of biomolecular structure and function and then proceeds with explaining how biomolecules can be attached to typical transducer materials. Subsequently, the working mechanism of the most common transducers is addressed in detail. The lectures will touch on the commercial criteria for a successful biosensor, for example for point-of-care diagnostic applications. The practical work takes places in the Centre for Hybrid Biodevices (aka the bioECS lab). You will first measure the amount of glucose in various samples with an enzymatic assay using a state-of-the-art UV-VIS photospectrometer and subsequently with commercial amperometric glucose sensors. The second experiment is an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for protein analysis of a blood sample. The last weeks will be dedicated to analysis of specific papers from the scientific literature. In these tutorial sessions we will discuss key points of pre-selected journal papers with the entire group. Note that ELEC6205 Bionanotechnology (semester 1) *or* ELEC3223 Introduction to Bionanotechnology (semester 1) is a prerequisite for this module because ELEC6210 builds on biophysical and biochemical concepts introduced in ELEC6205/ELEC3223.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To provide an overview of biomolecular sensor methodologies

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Biosensor design
  • Biofunctionalisation of nanofabricated materials
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Write concise technical/laboratory reports in the format of a journal paper
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Perform some basic biochemical laboratory procedures
  • Construct and operate some biosensor types
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Explain the working mechanisms of the most common types of biosensors
  • Appreciate the advantages and limitations of specific transduction mechanisms
  • Critically evaluate biosensor data from the scientific literature


Fundamentals - Structure and function of the major biomolecule classes - Biomolecular detection and biomolecular recognition themes - Immobilisation of biomolecules on transducer surfaces - Conventional and nanotechnology-based transduction schemes - Data analysis and performance factors Applications - Optical biosensors - Mechanical biosensors - Electrochemical biosensors - Enzyme-based biosensors - Antibody-based biosensors - DNA-based biosensors Practical work - Construct an enzyme-based biosensor - Determine glucose concentration with UV-VIS spectroscopy - Set up an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) - Measure a protein analyte in a blood sample - Evaluate biosensor performance

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

This module uses a combination of lectures, practical work, literature study and discussions of scientific publications. Your report about the lab work will include a short literature review

Follow-up work10
Wider reading or practice50
Preparation for scheduled sessions10
Completion of assessment task42
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Comprehensive lecture notes will be provided.. 

Cooper MA (2009). Label-Free Biosensors: Techniques and Applications. 

Zourob M (Ed.), (2010). Recognition Receptors in Biosensors. 

Hames D and Hooper NM (2005). Biochemistry. 

Kumar S (2007). Nanomaterials for Biosensors. 

Khanna VK (2012). Nanosensors: Physical, Chemical and Biological,. 

Gizeli E and Lowe CR (2002). Biomolecular Sensors. 

Pethig RR and Smith S (2012). Introductory Bioelectronics: for Engineers and Physical Scientists. 

Hames D and Hooper NM (2011). Biochemistry. 

A laboratory manual will be provided. 

Eggins BR (2002). Chemical Sensors and Biosensors. 

Banica FG (2012). Chemical Sensors and Biosensors: Fundamentals and Applications. 

Gorton L (2005). Biosensors and Modern Biospecific Analytical Techniques. 

Ferrier (2014). Biochemistry. 


Assessment Strategy

The coursework will not be marked if the student has not attended the laboratory sessions.


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam  (2 hours) 50%
Report 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework assignment(s) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Prerequisites: ELEC3223 or ELEC6205

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