While it has been well recognized that affordable and pocket-size devices play a major role in environmental monitoring, food safety and medical diagnostics, it often takes a tremendous amount of resources to develop such devices. Devices that have been developed are often dedicated devices that can detect only one or a few targets. To overcome these limitations, we herein report a novel target-responsive smart thermometer for translating molecular detection into a temperature test. The sensor system consists of a functional DNA-phospholipase A2 (PLA2) enzyme conjugate, a liposome-encapsulated NIR dye, and a thermometer interfaced with a NIR-laser device. The sensing principle is based on the target-induced release of PLA2 from the DNA-enzyme conjugate, which catalyzes the hydrolysis of liposome to release the NIR dye inside the liposome. Upon NIR-laser irradiation, the released dye can convert excitation energy into heat, producing a temperature increase in solution, which is detectable using a thermometer. Considering the low cost and facile incorporation of the system with suitable functional DNAs to recognize many targets, the system demonstrated here makes the thermometer an affordable and pocket-size meter for the detection and quantification of a wide range of targets.
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