Modeling of nanopore FETs for single-molecule biosensing

Leuven - PhD
More than two weeks ago

Your project will be at the forefront of highly parallelized and scalable proteomics, and pave the way for tomorrow’s point-of-care medical devices


The continuous optimization of the metal-oxide-semiconductor field effect transistor (MOSFET) since the mid-60s has enabled ultra-scaled devices. This nano-scaling of MOSFETs has primarily benefited the field of computing, but is also expected to benefit the interdisciplinary field of biosensing. While biosensing, and in particular DNA sequencing, has been done successfully by ion current sensing through nanopores, the nanopore FET has been recently proposed as an alternative design. The detection of molecular motion through a nanopore inside a FET based on the FET's electrical characteristics is expected to solve multiple challenges, by offering larger signals, higher bandwidth, denser integration and parallel sensing.

This project explores the optimal design configuration of a nanopore FET, while connecting closely with experimental input from FET experts and from molecular dynamics experts. Modeling efforts are ground-breaking as a solver platform, including both semiconductor drift-diffusion equations as well as Nernst-Planck and Navier-Stokes equations for liquids, is virtually non-existing. A prototype design as in the figure below has been established with OpenFOAM, an open source C++-based toolbox. The applicant will extend the design with promising geometries and detailed molecular models on unstructured meshes. He or she will develop code to compute the high-frequency noise in the nanopore FET to allow a realistic assessment of the device's potential. The ongoing prototype development in our world-class 300mm semiconductor processing line and state-of-the-art laboratories will complement the topic of this PhD.

The successful candidate for this topic has a good knowledge of semiconductor physics, as well as a basic understanding of fluid dynamics. He or she has good programming skills. Simulations will be done with OpenFOAM, a C++-based toolbox. For calibration, physical understanding or pathfinding of completely new device designs, our in-house prototype nanopore FETs will be available. During the project, the candidate will also learn about the fabrication process of the nanopore FET and about electrical and spectroscopic characterization techniques. Interactions will exist with semiconductor device experts and with molecular and fluid dynamics experts at imec.

A prototype nanopore FET



Required background: Physics, Electrical Engineering, Computational Engineering Sciences, Mathematics, Computer Science, or equivalent

Type of work: 70% modeling/simulation/programming, 20% literature, 10% experimental verification

Supervisor: Pol Van Dorpe

Daily advisor: Anne Verhulst

The reference code for this position is 2020-088. Mention this reference code on your application form.
Chinese nationals who wish to apply for the CSC scholarship, should use the following code when applying for this topic: CSC2020-47.


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