Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Maria Maddalena Calabretta

  • Credits 4

  • SSD CHIM/01

  • Language Italian

  • Campus of Bologna

  • Degree Programme Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Chemistry (cod. 9072)

  • Course Timetable from Mar 02, 2022 to Jun 01, 2022


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Good health and well-being Clean water and sanitation

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student: - acquires the fundamental notions related to the use of biological molecules as reagents, - knows the basic principles of detection techniques and of the various analytical formats used in bioanalytical techniques, - knows the main types of biosensors and of bioanalytical methods and their applications, - is able to select the most suitable bioanalytical technique to solve a real problem.

Course contents

Introduction to biosensors: history, specifications of biosensors and analytical performance, classification of biosensors by molecular recognition element and by transduction system, catalytic and affinity-based biosensors.


Molecular recognition elements: enzymes, antibodies, chimeric antibodies, nanobodies, non-antibody binding proteins, molecular imprinted polymers, aptamers, DNA, RNA, PNA.

Overview on main trasduction and/ or detection systmes (optical, plasmonic, electrochemical, piezoelectric, mechanical).

Markers for various detection techniques, immobilization of biomolecules, biosensor architectures and integrated analytical systems, microfluidics and portable analytical devices, micro- and nanotechnologies in bioanalysis.

Classification of biosensors based on enzymatic, immunological and nucleic acid hybridization reactions, and bioanalytical methods for recognition mechanism (enzymatic, immunological and genic)

Label-free optical sensors: Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR)-based and Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW)-based biosensors, principles of SPR and SAW biosensors, instrumentation, recognition processes, applications of SPR and SAW biosensors.

The role of biotechnology and cellular biosensors.

Whole-cell luminescent biosensors: principles of whole-cell luminescent biosensors, reporter genes and proteins, molecular recognition elements, whole-cell biosensors based on FRET and BRET processes. Applications of whole-cell bioluminescent biosensors: detections of specific analytes, toxicity assays, high-throughput and high-content screening.

Marketed biosensors, state of the art of biosensors for point-of care and point of need applications with critical assessment of main advantages and limitations of different biosensing strategies.

Review of recent scientific publications on the topics covered in the course and of applications in the medical, pharmaceutical, environmental, food, industrial fields.


PowerPoint slides of room lectures and PDFs of scientific publications discussed during the course available on “Insegnamenti online” (http://iol.unibo.it/, access with credentials reserved for students enrolled at the University of Bologna).


Biosensors and Nanotechnology: Applications in Health Care Diagnostics. Zeynep Altintas (Editor) ISBN: 978-1-119-06501-2 December 2017

Bioanalytical Chemistry (English Edition) 2nd Edition, Wiley di Susan R. Mikkelsen, Eduardo Cortón, ISBN: 1118302540, 2016

Scientific publications will be provided during the course.

Teaching methods

The course is organized in room lectures (supported by PowerPoint presentations) in which the course topics will be presented and discussed. During the course, recent scientific publications related to the topics of the course will be also examined and discussed.

Assessment methods

Verification of knowledge on the whole program by means of the following tests.

- Oral exam on the topics covered during the course, aimed at verifying the acquisition of knowledge and expected skills. In particular, evaluation will be performed taking into account: the comprehension of the basic principles of bioanalytical methods, the knowledge of the main types of biosensors and bioanalytical techniques, the knowledge of practical applications of the methods described above, the ability to select the most suitable bioanalytical technique to solve a real problem.

- Presentation and discussion of a recent scientific publication chosen by the student and related to the topics covered in the course.

The evaluation will be based on the demonstration of the critical understanding of the topics and the ability to discuss them.

Teaching tools

Video projector. The teaching material (PowerPoint presentations, PDFs of scientific publication discussed during room lectures) will be made available to the student in electronic format on “Insegnamenti online” (http://iol.unibo.it/, access with credentials reserved for students enrolled at the University of Bologna). Such material should be printed and brought to class.

Office hours

See the website of Maria Maddalena Calabretta