Microchimica Acta

, 186:405 | Cite as

Nucleic acid-based ratiometric electrochemiluminescent, electrochemical and photoelectrochemical biosensors: a review

  • Zhenhao Wang
  • Renzhong Yu
  • Hui Zeng
  • Xinxing Wang
  • Shizong Luo
  • Weihua LiEmail author
  • Xiliang LuoEmail author
  • Tao YangEmail author
Review Article


The demand of precise assay of nucleic acids and other bioanalytes has been increasing enormously in various areas including point-of-care diagnostics, military, environmental monitoring and so on. Compared with other nucleic acid biosensors, the electrochemical nucleic acid biosensors possess a range of merits like amenable miniaturization, low costs and high sensitivity. Ratiometric electrochemical nucleic acid biosensors can overcome the inherent systematic errors of conventional electrochemical biosensors and enhance the reproducibility and credibility. This short review (with 81 refs.) summarizes the evolvements made in the area of nucleic acid-based biosensors based on ratiometric (electrochemiluminescent, electrochemical and photoelectrochemical) readout in the past few years. Many of the methods discussed here are based on the use of advanced nanomaterials such as quantum dots, graphitic carbon nitrides, graphene oxide, C-dots, gold nanoparticles, metal-organic frameworks, and respective nanohybrids. Three sections (on electrochemiluminescence, classical electrochemical and emerging photoelectrochemical systems) demonstrate the merits of ratiometric assays in various applications. The review ends with a section with conclusions and a discussion of future perspectives.

Graphical abstract

Ratiometric sensing strategies overcome the intrinsic systematic errors of conventional electrochemical sensors that suffer from environmental and personal factors, and thus leads to remarkably enhanced reproducibility and reliability.


Ratiometric detection Ratio of signals Methylene blue Ferrocene 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 21675092, 51525903, 21804076), Aoshan Talents Outstanding Scientist Program Supported by Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology (No. 2017ASTCP-OS09), Special Project on the Integration of Industry, Education and Research of Guangzhou (No. 201604016008), Foshan Nanhai Economic and Technological Promotion Bureau Project (No. 20177611071010008) and Applied Basic Research Program of Qingdao (No. 17-1-1-65-jch).

Compliance with ethical standards

The author(s) declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Chemical Engineering and TechnologySun Yat-sen University, Southern Laboratory of Ocean Science and Engineering (Guangdong, Zhuhai)ZhuhaiChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Optic-electric Sensing and Analytical Chemistry for Life Science, Ministry of Education, College of Chemistry and Molecular EngineeringQingdao University of Science and TechnologyQingdaoChina

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