Atomically Fe-anchored MOF-on-MOF nanozyme with differential signal amplification for ultrasensitive cathodic electrochemiluminescence immunoassay

An ultrasensitive cathodic electrochemiluminescence immunoassay was developed by designing atomically Fe-anchored MOF-on-MOF nanozymes (CoNi-MOF@PCN-224/Fe) as ECL electrode materials and plasmonic Ag/AuNCs as high-efficient co-reactant quenchers. The proposed differential signal amplification strategy endowed the immunoassay with superior detection ability, which provide more possibilities for the ultrasensitive detection of disease markers in clinical diagnosis.


The successful application of electrochemiluminescence (ECL) in immunoassays for clinical diagnosis requires stable electrodes and high-efficient ECL signal amplification strategies. Herein, the authors discovered a new class of atomically dispersed peroxidase-like nanozymes with multiple active sites (CoNi-MOF@PCN-224/Fe), which significantly improved the catalytic performance and uncovered the underlying mechanism. Experimental studies and theoretical calculation results revealed that the nanozyme introduced a Fenton-like reaction into the catalytic system and the crucial synergistic effects of definite active moieties endow CoNi-MOF@PCN-224/Fe strong electron-withdrawing effect and low thermodynamic activation energy toward H2O2. Benefiting from the high peroxidase-like activity of the hybrid system, the resultant ECL electrode exhibited superior catalytic activity in the luminol-H2O2 system and resulted in an ≈17-fold increase in the ECL intensity. In addition, plasmonic Ag/Au core-satellite nanocubes (Ag/AuNCs) were designed as high-efficient co-reactant quenchers to improve the performance of the ECL immunoassay. On the basis of the differential signal amplification strategy (DSAS) proposed, the immunoassay displayed superior detection ability, with a low limit of detection (LOD) of 0.13 pg mL−1 for prostate-specific antigen (PSA). The designed atomically anchored MOF-on-MOF nanozyme and DSAS strategy provides more possibilities for the ultrasensitive detection of disease markers in clinical diagnosis.

Author list:

Chuanping Li*, Tianxiang Hang, Yongdong Jin*

How to cite:

C. Li, T. Hang, Y. Jin, Exploration 2023, 3, 20220151.