Abstract: Semiconducting nanowires have the potential to act as highly sensitive sensors for the detection of pathogenic microorganisms, without the need for a label on the pathogen. Practical miniature sensors would have applications in diagnostics, homeland security and basic research. Current technologies have not been widely adopted for various reasons, including the difficulty of integrating nanoscale devices into practical sensors. Now a team spanning five departments at Yale has developed a new approach to the problem. In a state-of-the-art (CMOS-compatible) system they create miniature, ultra-sensitive sensors that can detect specific unlabelled antibodies at concentrations below 100 femtomolar and are able to monitor the cellular immune response in 'real-time'. A new approach that uses complementary metal oxide semiconductor field effect transistor compatible technology is reported, and demonstrates the specific label-free detection of below 100 femtomolar concentrations of antibodies as well as real-time monitoring of the cellular immune response. Semiconducting nanowires have the potential to function as highly sensitive and selective sensors for the label-free detection of low concentrations of pathogenic microorganisms1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10. Successful solution-phase nanowire sensing has been demonstrated for ions3, small molecules4, proteins5,6, DNA7 and viruses8; however, ‘bottom-up’ nanowires (or similarly configured carbon nanotubes11) used for these demonstrations require hybrid fabrication schemes12,13, which result in severe integration issues that have hindered widespread application. Alternative ‘top-down’ fabrication methods of nanowire-like devices9,10,14,15,16,17 produce disappointing performance because of process-induced material and device degradation. Here we report an approach that uses complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) field effect transistor compatible technology and hence demonstrate the specific label-free detection of below 100 femtomolar concentrations of antibodies as well as real-time monitoring of the cellular immune response. This approach eliminates the need for hybrid methods and enables system-scale integration of these sensors with signal processing and information systems. Additionally, the ability to monitor antibody binding and sense the cellular immune response in real time with readily available technology should facilitate widespread diagnostic applications.
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