Archer Exploration (ASX:AXE) has demonstrated graphene’s usefulness in overcoming issues with biosensors, a market that is set to be worth over $US29 billion by 2024.

Biological sensor devices are used in the detection and diagnosis of disease.

Graphene is a single layer of carbon atoms made from graphite, making it extremely thin and ideal to act as an interface for the chemical reaction needed in a biosensor.

The problem is though, graphene is chemically inactive.

One of the biggest barriers to printable biosensors involves the scalable fabrication of integrated componentry capable of multiplexing — detecting a number of different diseases simultaneously using the same specimen.

But Archer thinks it may have potentially unlocked the graphene surface to do a whole bunch of multiplexing reactions.

“Multiplexing is very difficult, very sought after,” chairman Mohammad Choucair told Stockhead. “Not many people in the world can do it and it’s basically being able to detect more than one disease in the same device.”

Archer revealed yesterday it has been able to create inks that incorporate process-compatible biomaterials provided by its German biotech partners.

And it has printed them on biosensor components.

The graphene comes from Archer’s Campoona graphite mine in South Australia.

Here’s how they do it:

Global Market Insights says increasing applications in diagnosing diseases will stimulate growth of the biosensors industry significantly.

In particular, the rise in preference for portable miniature biosensor devices will escalate growth.

The biosensors market is predicted to grow annually by 8 per cent through to 2024.

“The driving factors for growth obviously are ageing populations all over the world,” Choucair said.

“So vast global populations are getting old, people get sick and they want to be able to detect disease more accurately and efficiently, and you can imagine that can facilitate improvements in managing health.”

Europe is the largest contributor in the printed sensor market.

Silicon v graphene

There are a number of different materials that can be used in biosensors, but some can be costly and quite difficult to use.

Silicon and gold are both currently used, but gold is expensive and both silicon and gold are “laborious”, according to Choucair.

Universal Biosensors (ASX:UBI) is also developing biosensor technology, but it uses gold and palladium in opposing electrodes.

“The current technologies are based on silicon,” Choucair explained.

“There are other technologies that incorporate carbon as well, but the functions of the componentry may not necessarily be integrated.

“So here we are using the carbon as both the electrode for example and the actual detecting interface, and we’re printing it.”

Between Archer and its German biotech partner there is no shortage of the materials they need to develop their biosensor technology.

“Materials are at the heart of this challenge and … the materials are available in our inventory — that’s the carbon-based inks — and in the inventory of the German biotech that we’re working with,” Choucair noted.

“They have a lot of biomaterials that we can try and integrate into our kind of digitised processing of these biosensors so that we can perform multiplexing.”

Archer has a provisional patent for its biosensor technology intellectual property (IP), which gives it until February 15, 2020 to prove commercial viability and apply for a full patent.

A full patent would give Archer the exclusive rights to commercially exploit the IP.