Staff member


Mònica Mir Llorente

Senior Researcher
Nanobioengineering
mmir@ibecbarcelona.eu
+34 934 037 178
Staff member publications

Gállego, Isaac, Manning, Brendan, Prades, Joan Daniel, Mir, Mònica, Samitier, Josep, Eritja, Ramon, (2017). DNA-origami-driven lithography for patterning on gold surfaces with sub-10 nm resolution Advanced Materials 29, 1603233

Ramos, E., Pardo, W. A., Mir, M., Samitier, J., (2017). Dependence of carbon nanotubes dispersion kinetics on surfactants Nanotechnology 28, (13), 135702

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have been the subject of many studies due to their unique structure and desirable properties. However, the ability to solubilize and separate single CNTs from the bundles they form is still a challenge that needs to be overcome in order to extend their applications in the field of Nanotechnology. Covalent interactions are designed to modify CNTs surface and so prevent agglomeration. Though, this method alters the structures and intrinsic properties of CNTs. In the present work, noncovalent approaches to functionalize and solubilize CNTs are studied in detail. A dispersion kinetic study was performed to characterize the ability of different type of surfactants (non-ionic, anionic, cationic and biopolymer) to unzip CNT bundles. The dispersion kinetic study performed depicts the distinct CNTs bundles unzipping behavior of the different type of surfactants and the results elucidate specific wavelengths in relation with the degree of CNT clustering, which provides new tools for a deeper understanding and characterization of CNTs. Small angle x-ray scattering and transmission electron microscopy results are in agreement with UV-vis-NIR observations, revealing perfectly monodispersed CNTs for the biopolymer and cationic surfactant.

Keywords: Dispersion, DNA, Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs), Small angle x-ray scattering (SAXS), Sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), Surfactant, Triton X-100


Zaffino, R. L., Mir, M., Samitier, J., (2017). Oligonucleotide probes functionalization of nanogap electrodes Electrophoresis Early View (Online Version of Record published before inclusion in an issue)

Nanogap electrodes have attracted a lot of consideration as promising platform for molecular electronic and biomolecules detection. This is mainly for their higher aspect ratio, and because their electrical properties are easily accessed by current-voltage measurements. Nevertheless, application of standard current-voltages measurements used to characterize nanogap response, and/or to modify specific nanogap electrodes properties, represents an issue. Since the strength of electrical fields in nanoscaled devices can reach high values, even at low voltages. Here, we analyzed the effects induced by different methods of surface modification of nanogap electrodes, in test-voltage application, employed for the electrical detection of a desoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) target. Nanogap electrodes were functionalized with two antisymmetric oligo-probes designed to have 20 terminal bases complementary to the edges of the target, which after hybridization bridges the nanogap, closing the electrical circuit. Two methods of functionalization were studied for this purpose; a random self-assembling of a mixture of the two oligo-probes (OPs) used in the platform, and a selective method that controls the position of each OP at selected side of nanogap electrodes. We used for this aim, the electrophoretic effect induced on negatively charged probes by the application of an external direct current voltage. The results obtained with both functionalization methods where characterized and compared in terms of electrode surface covering, calculated by using voltammetry analysis. Moreover, we contrasted the electrical detection of a DNA target in the nanogap platform either in site-selective and in randomly assembled nanogap. According to our results, a denser, although not selective surface functionalization, is advantageous for such kind of applications.

Keywords: Biosensor bioelectronics, DNA electrophoresis, Nanogap electrodes, Self-assembled monolayers, Site-selective deposition


Tahirbegi, I.B., Pardo, W.A., Alvira, M., Mir, M., Samitier, J., (2016). Amyloid A Nanotechnology 27, (46), 465102

The accumulation of iron oxides - mainly magnetite - with amyloid peptide is a key process in the development of Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, the mechanism for biogeneration of magnetite inside the brain of someone with AD is still unclear. The iron-storing protein ferritin has been identified as the main magnetite-storing molecule. However, accumulations of magnetite in AD are not correlated with an increase in ferritin, leaving this question unresolved. Here we demonstrate the key role of amyloid peptide Aβ 42, one of the main hallmarks of AD, in the generation of magnetite nanoparticles in the absence of ferritin. The capacity of amyloid peptide to bind and concentrate iron hydroxides, the basis for the formation of magnetite, benefits the spontaneous synthesis of these nanoparticles, even under unfavorable conditions for their formation. Using scanning and transmission electron microscopy, electron energy loss spectroscopy and magnetic force microscopy we characterized the capacity of amyloid peptide Aβ 42 to promote magnetite formation.

Keywords: Alzheimer disease (AD), amyloid peptide Ab42, magnetite nanoparticle, metallobiomolecule, iron oxide, neurodegenerative brain diseases


Paéz Aviles, C. , Juanola-Feliu, E., Tahirbegi, I.B. , Mir, M., Gonzalez-Piñero, M., Samitier, J., (2015). Innovation and technology transfer of medical devices fosterd by cross disciplinary communities of practitioners International Journal of Innovation Management 19, (6), 1540012

Commercialisation of emerging technological innovations such as medical devices can be a time-consuming and lengthy process resulting in a market entrance failure. To tackle this general problem, major challenges are being analysed, principally focusing on the role of Communities of Practitioners (CoPs) in the process of effective transfer of high-value emerging technologies from academia to market. Taking a case study approach, this document describes the role of a cross-disciplinary CoP in the technology transfer process within a convergence scenario. The case presented is a sensor array for ischemia detection developed by different practitioners from diverse organisations: university, research institution, hospital, and a scientific park. The analysis also involves the innovation ecosystem where all stakeholders are taken into account. This study contributes to a better understanding of the managerial implications of CoP fostering technology transfer and innovation, principally focused on the current need for new biomedical technologies and tools.

Keywords: CoP, Medical devices, Innovation, Technology transfer, Ischemia


Teller, Sara, Tahirbegi, Islam Bogachan, Mir, M., Samitier, Josep, Soriano, Jordi, (2015). Magnetite-Amyloid- Scientific Reports 5, 17261

The understanding of the key mechanisms behind human brain deterioration in Alzheimer’ disease (AD) is a highly active field of research. The most widespread hypothesis considers a cascade of events initiated by amyloid-


Zaffino, R. L., Galan, T., Pardo, W. A., Mir, M., Samitier, J., (2015). Nanoprobes for enhanced electrochemical DNA sensors Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Nanomedicine and Nanobiotechnology 7, (6), 817-827

Biosensors, small devices enabling selective bioanalysis because of properly assembled biological recognition molecules, represent the fortuitous results of years of interdisciplinary and complementary investigations in different fields of science. The ultimate role of a biosensor is to provide coupling between the recognition element and the analyte of interest, bringing a quantitative value of its concentrations into a complex sample matrix. They offer many advantages. Among them, portability, low cost with fast response times, and the possibility to operate in situ without the need for sample preparation are certainly the most important. Among biosensors, a large space is occupied by DNA biosensors. Screening genomic DNA is of fundamental importance for the development of new tools available to physicians during the clinical process. Sequencing of individual human genomes, accomplished principally by microarrays with optical detection, is complex and expensive for current clinical protocols. Efforts in research are focused on simplifying and reducing the cost of DNA biosensors. For this purpose, other transduction techniques are under study to make more portable and affordable DNA biosensors. Compared with traditional optical detection tools, electrochemical methods allow the same sensitivity and specificity but are less expensive and less labor intensive. Scalability of electrochemical devices makes it possible to use the advantages introduced by nanosized components. The involvement of nanomaterials and nanostructures with custom-tailored shapes and properties is expected to rapidly boost the field of electrochemical DNA biosensors and, in general, that of next-generation sequencing technologies.


Pardo, W. A., Mir, M., Samitier, J., (2015). Signal enhancement in ultraflat electrochemical DNA biosensors Electrophoresis 36, (16), 1905-1911

The ability of holding back the undesired molecules, but at the same time to provide the right distribution and orientation of the bioreceptors, are critical targets to reach an efficient hybridization and enhanced detection in electrochemical DNA biosensors. The main actors responsible of these key functions are the substrate of the sensor and the interface auto-assembled on it. In this paper we present the annealing as a method to improve commercial gold evaporated substrates for biosensor applications. The restructuring of granulated gold surface by means of annealing heating treatment leads to the formation of ultraflat gold lamellar terraces. The formation of terraces was characterized with scanning tunneling microscopy and optical interferometry. The performance of the sensor sensitivity on granular substrates and ultraflat substrates was studied, concerning the orientation and surface coverage of the bioreceptor interface applied in electrochemical biosensor. The hybridization efficiency of ferrocene-labeled DNA amplified by PCR was characterized with surface plasmon resonance and electrochemistry. The experimental results demonstrate that annealing process, positive influence on optical and voltammetric readings, due to a structured organization of the bioreceptors on the flat substrate, gaining more efficient immobilization and DNA hybridization. The results suggest the annealing as a powerful tool for improving gold substrates in biosensors applications.

Keywords: Annealing ultraflat surfaces, DNA biosensor, DNA hybridization, Electrochemistry, Self-assembled monolayer


Tahirbegi, I. B., Mir, M., Schostek, S., Schurr, M., Samitier, J., (2014). In vivo ischemia monitoring array for endoscopic surgery Biosensors and Bioelectronics 61, 124-130

An array with all-solid-state, potentiometric, miniaturized sensors for pH and potassium was developed to be introduced into the stomach or other sectors of the digestive tract by means of flexible endoscopy. These sensors perform continuous and simultaneous measurement of extracellular pH and potassium. This detection seeks to sense ischemia in the gastric mucosa inside the stomach, an event indicative of local microvascular perfusion and tissue oxygenation status. Our array is proposed as a medical tool to identify the occurrence of the ischemia after gastrointestinal or gastroesophageal anastomosis. The stability and feasibility of the miniaturized working and reference electrodes integrated in the array were studied under in vitro conditions, and the behavior of the potassium and pH ion-selective membranes were optimized to work under acidic gastric conditions with high concentrations of HCl. The array was tested in vivo in pigs to measure the ischemia produced by clamping the blood flow into the stomach. Our results indicate that ischemic and reperfusion states can be sensed in vivo and that information on tissue damage can be collected by this sensor array. The device described here provides a miniaturized, inexpensive, and mass producible sensor array for detecting local ischemia caused by unfavorable anastomotic perfusion and will thus contribute to preventing anastomotic leakage and failure caused by tissue necrosis.

Keywords: Endoscopy, Surgery, Tissue, Gastric anastomosis, Gastric conditions, Ion selective sensors, Ischemia, pH detection, Reference electrodes, Simultaneous measurement, Tissue oxygenation, Sensors


Zaffino, R. L., Mir, M., Samitier, J., (2014). Label-free detection of DNA hybridization and single point mutations in a nano-gap biosensor Nanotechnology 25, (10), 105501 (8)

We describe a conductance-based biosensor that exploits DNA-mediated long-range electron transport for the label-free and direct electrical detection of DNA hybridization. This biosensor platform comprises an array of vertical nano-gap biosensors made of gold and fabricated through standard photolithography combined with focused ion beam lithography. The nano-gap walls are covalently modified with short, anti-symmetric thiolated DNA probes, which are terminated by 19 bases complementary to both the ends of a target DNA strand. The nano-gaps are separated by a distance of 50nm, which was adjusted to fit the length of the DNA target plus the DNA probes. The hybridization of the target DNA closes the gap circuit in a switch on/off fashion, in such a way that it is readily detected by an increase in the current after nano-gap closure. The nano-biosensor shows high specificity in the discrimination of base-pair mismatching and does not require signal indicators or enhancing molecules. The design of the biosensor platform is applicable for multiplexed detection in a straightforward manner. The platform is well-suited to mass production, point-of-care diagnostics, and wide-scale DNA analysis applications.

Keywords: Biosensor, DNA hybridization, Labelfree, Nanogap, Single nucleotide mutation


Mir, M., Lugo, R., Tahirbegi, I. B., Samitier, J., (2014). Miniaturizable ion-selective arrays based on highly stable polymer membranes for biomedical applications Sensors 14, (7), 11844-11854

Poly(vinylchloride) (PVC) is the most common polymer matrix used in the fabrication of ion-selective electrodes (ISEs). However, the surfaces of PVC-based sensors have been reported to show membrane instability. In an attempt to overcome this limitation, here we developed two alternative methods for the preparation of highly stable and robust ion-selective sensors. These platforms are based on the selective electropolymerization of poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT), where the sulfur atoms contained in the polymer covalently interact with the gold electrode, also permitting controlled selective attachment on a miniaturized electrode in an array format. This platform sensor was improved with the crosslinking of the membrane compounds with poly(ethyleneglycol) diglycidyl ether (PEG), thus also increasing the biocompatibility of the sensor. The resulting ISE membranes showed faster signal stabilization of the sensor response compared with that of the PVC matrix and also better reproducibility and stability, thus making these platforms highly suitable candidates for the manufacture of robust implantable sensors.

Keywords: Biomedicine, Electrochemistry, Endoscope, Implantable device, Ion-selective electrode (ISE) sensor, Ischemia, pH detection, Biocompatibility, Chemical sensors, Electrochemistry, Electrodes, Electropolymerization, Endoscopy, Functional polymers, Implants (surgical), Ion selective electrodes, Medical applications, Polyvinyl chlorides, Stabilization, Biomedical applications, Biomedicine, Implantable devices, Ion selective sensors, Ischemia, Membrane instability, pH detection, Poly(3 ,4 ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT), Ion selective membranes


Tahirbegi, I. B., Alvira, M., Mir, M., Samitier, J., (2014). Simple and fast method for fabrication of endoscopic implantable sensor arrays Sensors 14, (7), 11416-11426

Here we have developed a simple method for the fabrication of disposable implantable all-solid-state ion-selective electrodes (ISE) in an array format without using complex fabrication equipment or clean room facilities. The electrodes were designed in a needle shape instead of planar electrodes for a full contact with the tissue. The needle-shape platform comprises 12 metallic pins which were functionalized with conductive inks and ISE membranes. The modified microelectrodes were characterized with cyclic voltammetry, scanning electron microscope (SEM), and optical interferometry. The surface area and roughness factor of each microelectrode were determined and reproducible values were obtained for all the microelectrodes on the array. In this work, the microelectrodes were modified with membranes for the detection of pH and nitrate ions to prove the reliability of the fabricated sensor array platform adapted to an endoscope.

Keywords: Chemical sensors, Cyclic voltammetry, Electrochemistry, Endoscopy, Fabrication, Implants (surgical), Microelectrodes, Needles, Nitrates, Scanning electron microscopy, Biomedicine, Fabricated sensors, Fabrication equipment, Implantable devices, Implantable sensors, Optical interferometry, Planar electrode, Roughness factor, Ion selective electrodes


Mir, Mònica , Tahirbegi, Islam Bogachan , Valle-Delgado, Juan José , Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Samitier, Josep , (2012). In vitro study of magnetite-amyloid Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine 8, (6), 974-980

Biogenic magnetite (Fe3O4) has been identified in human brain tissue. However, abnormal concentration of magnetite nanoparticles in the brain has been observed in different neurodegenerative pathologies. In the case of Alzheimer's disease (AD), these magnetic nanoparticles have been identified attached to the characteristic brain plaques, which are mainly formed by fibrils of amyloid

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease, Biogenic magnetite, Amyloid β peptide (Aβ), Superconducting quantum interference, Scanning electron microscope, Surface plasmon resonance, Magnetic force microscopy


Zaffino, R.L., Pardo, W.A., Mir, M., Samitier, J., (2012). Electrochemical DNA biosensors at the nanoscale Biosensors and Cancer (ed. Preedy, V.R., Patel, V.), Science Publishers (London, UK) , 62-84

Tahirbegi, I. B., Mir, M., (2011). Slit-wave model for band structures in solid state physics Modern Physics Letters B 25, (3), 151-161

The reason behind the entire development in silicon technology was band models in solid state physics. However, the theories postulated in order to give response to this phenomenon do not explain all kinds of materials. In a bid to overcome this limitation, we approach the problem from another point of view. In this work, the wave properties of the electrons from the external orbitals of the atoms and its diffraction patterns through the lattice structure of the material have been used to explain the band structure of metals, semiconductor and insulators. In order to probe this hypothesis, a simulation has been used and according to the relation between the lattice constant and the atomic diameter, the splitting of the bands have been observed for different kind of materials, showing a strong correlation between the simulation and the experimental results.

Keywords: Electrical band structure, Band gap, Fraunhofer diffraction, Semiconductor, Insulator


del Moral Zamora, B., Colomer, J., Mir, M., Homs, A., Miribel, P., Samitier, J., (2011). Combined impedance and dielectrophoresis portable device for point-of-care analysis Proceedings SPIE Bioelectronics, Biomedical, and Bioinspired Systems V; and Nanotechnology V , SPIE (Prague, Czech Republic) 8068, 80680T (19)

In the 90s, efforts arise in the scientific world to automate and integrate one or several laboratory applications in tinny devices by using microfluidic principles and fabrication technologies used mainly in the microelectronics field. It showed to be a valid method to obtain better reactions efficiency, shorter analysis times, and lower reagents consumption over existing analytical techniques. Traditionally, these fluidic microsystems able to realize laboratory essays are known as Lab-On-a-Chip (LOC) devices. The capability to transport cells, bacteria or biomolecules in an aqueous medium has significant potential for these microdevices, also known as micro-Total-Analysis Systems (uTAS) when their application is of analytical nature. In particular, the technique of dielectrophoresis (DEP) opened the possibility to manipulate, actuate or transport such biological particles being of great potential in medical diagnostics, environmental control or food processing. This technique consists on applying amplitude and frequency controlled AC signal to a given microsystem in order to manipulate or sort cells. Furthermore, the combination of this technique with electrical impedance measurements, at a single or multiple frequencies, is of great importance to achieve novel reliable diagnostic devices. This is because the sorting and manipulating mechanism can be easily combined with a fully characterizing method able to discriminate cells. The paper is focused in the electronics design of the quadrature DEP generator and the four-electrode impedance measurement modules. These together with the lab-on-a-chip device define a full conception of an envisaged Point-of-Care (POC) device.


Mir, M., (2011). Aptamers: The new biorecognition element for proteomic biosensing Biochemistry Research Updates (ed. Baginski, Simon J.), Nova Science Publishers, Inc (Hauppauge, USA) , -----

Aptamers are single stranded artificial nucleic acid ligands that can be generated against almost any kind of target, such as ions, metabolites aminoacids, drugs, toxins, proteins or whole cells. They are isolated from combinatorial libraries of synthetic nucleic acids by an iterative process of adsorption, recovery and amplification, know as SELEX (Systematic Evolution of Ligands by EXponential enrichment) process. Aptamers, the nucleic acid equivalent to antibodies, are easy to synthesise, is not required the use of animals for its synthesis, for this reason it can be developed again toxins and small molecules that do not produce immune response in animals and can be tuned for affinity in closer to assay conditions permitting recognition out of the physiological state. So, aptamers posses numerous advantages that make them preferred candidates as biorecognition elements. In view of the advantages and simple structure of aptamers, they have been used in a wide range of applications such as therapeutics, diagnosis, chromatography, environmental detection, among other.

Keywords: Aptamers, Biosensors, Protein recognition


Mir, M., Cameron, P. J., Zhong, X., Azzaroni, O., Alvarez, M., Knoll, W., (2009). Anti-fouling characteristics of surface-confined oligonucleotide strands bioconjugated on streptavidin platforms in the presence of nanomaterials Talanta 78, (3), 1102-6

This work describes our studies on the molecular design of interfacial architectures suitable for DNA sensing which could resist non-specific binding of nanomaterials commonly used as labels for amplifying biorecognition events. We observed that the non-specific binding of bio-nanomaterials to surface-confined oligonucleotide strands is highly dependent on the characteristics of the interfacial architecture. Thiolated double stranded oligonucleotide arrays assembled on Au surfaces evidence significant fouling in the presence of nanoparticles (NPs) at the nanomolar level. The non-specific interaction between the oligonucleotide strands and the nanomaterials can be sensitively minimized by introducing streptavidin (SAv) as an underlayer conjugated to the DNA arrays. The role of the SAv layer was attributed to the significant hydrophilic repulsion between the SAv-modified surface and the nanomaterials in close proximity to the interface, thus conferring outstanding anti-fouling characteristics to the interfacial architecture. These results provide a simple and straightforward strategy to overcome the limitations introduced by the non-specific binding of labels to achieve reliable detection of DNA-based biorecognition events.

Keywords: DNA/ analysis, Gold, Nanostructures/ chemistry, Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis/ instrumentation, Oligonucleotides/ chemistry, Streptavidin/ chemistry, Sulfhydryl Compounds


Mir, M., Homs, A., Samitier, J., (2009). Integrated electrochemical DNA biosensors for lab-on-a-chip devices Electrophoresis 30, (19), 3386-3397

Analytical devices able to perform accurate and fast automatic DNA detection or sequencing procedures have many potential benefits in the biomedical and environmental fields. The conversion of biological or biochemical responses into quantifiable optical, mechanical or electronic signals is achieved by means of biosensors. Most of these transducing elements can be miniaturized and incorporated into lab-on-a-chip devices, also known as Micro Total Analysis Systems. The use of multiple DNA biosensors integrated in these miniaturized laboratories, which perform several analytical operations at the microscale, has many cost and efficiency advantages. Tiny amounts of reagents and samples are needed and highly sensitive, fast and parallel assays can be done at low cost. A particular type of DNA biosensors are the ones used based on electrochemical principles. These sensors offer several advantages over the popular fluorescence-based detection schemes. The resulting signal is electrical and can be processed by conventional electronics in a very cheap and fast manner. Furthermore, the integration and miniaturization of electrochemical transducers in a microsystem makes easier its fabrication in front of the most common currently used detection method. In this review, different electrochemical DNA biosensors integrated in analytical microfluidic devices are discussed and some early stage commercial products based on this strategy are presented.

Keywords: DNA, Electrochemical DNA biosensors, Electrochemistry, Lab-on-a-chip, Micro Total Analysis systems, Field-effect transistors, Sequence-specific detection, Chemical-analysis systems, Solid-state nanopores, Carbon nanotubes, Microfluidic device, Electrical detection, Hybridization, Molecules, Sensor


Diaguez, L., Darwish-, N., Mir, M., Martinez, E., Moreno, M., Samitier, J., (2009). Effect of the refractive index of buffer solutions in evanescent optical biosensors Sensor Letters 6th Maghreb-Europe Meeting on Materials and Their Applications for Devices and Physical, Chemical and Biological Sensors , AMER SCIENTIFIC PUBLISHERS (Rabat, Morocco) 7, (5), 851-855

Evanescent field optical biosensors are label free sensors that measure the variation of the refractive index of the adsorbed layer onto a chip surface and translate this variation into surface concentration of the adsorbed molecule. The evanescent field based techniques depend on a theoretical model of the waveguide to determine the desired parameters of the adsorbed layer. As this layer is not only composed by the biomolecules, but also by some amount of the buffer solution, in this study, we have developed a new calibration method to take into account the refractive index buffer changes. We report a new methodology to characterize each sensor chip before the measurements and we present the refractive indexes of different buffer solutions considering the most common ones used in biosensor applications. This work will set the calibration bases for any optical grating biosensor instrument.

Keywords: -----


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