Iron Single-Atom Catalysts on MXenes for Ultrasensitive Monitoring of Adrenal Tumor Markers and Cellular Dopamine

Saptami Suresh Shetty, Jehad K. El-Demellawi, Yusuf Khan, Mohamed N. Hedhili, P. Arul, Veerappan Mani*, Husam N. Alshareef, Khaled Nabil Salama*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Neuroblastoma and pheochromocytoma are the most prevalent malignancies of the adrenal medulla. They are currently diagnosed by measuring urinary catecholamines using high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, which is expensive, bulky, and tedious. Electrochemical detectors stand out as low-cost alternatives; however, further development of functional materials with adequate sensitivity is still required to attain clinically useful diagnostic devices. Here, Ti3C2Tx MXene nanosheets stabilized with iron single-atom catalysts (Fe-SACs), anchored on the surface, are synthesized and utilized as efficient electrocatalysts for the determination of catecholamine (dopamine (DA)) and its end-products (vanillylmandelic acid (VMA) and homovanillic acid (HVA)). The Fe-SACs/Ti3C2Tx exhibits low oxidation overpotentials with high signal amplifications up to 610%, 290%, and 420%, and sensitive detection limits of 1.0, 5.0, and 10 nM for DA, VMA, and HVA, respectively. The presence of the atomic Fe elements on the Ti3C2Tx nanosheets is confirmed using high-resolution scanning transmission electron microscopy and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. The Fe-SACs/Ti3C2Tx sensor tracks the in situ production of DA in PC12 cells and found practically useful in analyzing human urine samples. The Fe-SACs/Ti3C2Tx stands out as a sensitive diagnostic platform for evaluating the progression of tumors and the quality of cellular DA communications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2202069
JournalAdvanced Materials Technologies
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 24 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported financially by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia. In addition, the authors acknowledge the funding from the KAUST smart health initiative.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Wiley-VCH GmbH.


  • 2D materials
  • cancer
  • diagnostic devices
  • PC12 live cells
  • single atom catalyst

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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