KAUST Smart-Health

Featured Research

Single-atom catalyst for cancer detection


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. [READ MORE]

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Reproduced with permission from © 2023 Wiley-VCH.

Reproduced with permission from © 2023 Wiley-VCH.


Shetty, S.S., El-Demellawi, J.K., Khan, Y., Hedhili, M.N., Arul, P., Mani, V., Alshareef, H.N., Salama, K.N. Iron single-atom catalysts on MXenes for ultrasensitive monitoring of adrenal tumor markers and cellular dopamine. Advanced Materials Technologies 2202069 (2023) Iron Single-Atom Catalysts on MXenes for Ultrasensitive Monitoring of Adrenal Tumor Markers and Cellular Dopamine . Advanced Materials Technology (2023)

Principal investigator


Khaled Salama

Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

First author:


Saptami Suresh Shetty, Ph.D. Student