The interplay between pH sensitivity and label-free protein detection in immunologically modified nano-scaled field-effect transistor Academic Article uri icon


  • We present experimental results in order to establish a correlation between pH sensitivity of immunologically modified nano-scaled field-effect transistor (NS-ImmunoFET) with their sensing capacity for label-free detection. The NS-ImmunoFETs are fabricated from silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafers and are fully-depleted with thickness of ~20 nm. The data shows that higher sensitivity to pH entails enhanced sensitivity to analyte detection. This suggests that the mechanism of analyte detection as pure electrostatic perturbation induced by antibody-analyte interaction is over simplified. The fundamental assumption, in existing models for field-effect sensing mechanism assumes that the analyte molecules do not directly interact with the surface but rather stand 'deep' in the solution and away from the dielectric surface. Recent studies clearly provide contradicting evidence demonstrating that antibodies lie down flat on the surface. These observations led us to propose that the proteins that cover the gate area intimately interact with active sites on the surface thus forming a network of interacting sites. Since sensitivity to pH is directly correlated with the amount of amphoteric sites, we witness a direct correlation between sensitivity to pH and analyte detection. The highest and lowest threshold voltage shift for a label-free and specific detection of 6.5 nM IgG were 40 mV and 2.3 mV for NS-ImmunoFETs with pH sensitivity of 35 mV/decade and 15 mV/decade, respectively. Finally, physical modeling of the NS-ImmunoFET is presented and charge of a single IgG protein at pH 6 is calculated. The obtained value is consistent with charge of IgG protein cited in literature.

publication date

  • January 1, 2012