/Nano-scale Field Effect Transistor for Single-Biomolecule Sensing

Nano-scale Field Effect Transistor for Single-Biomolecule Sensing

Leuven | More than two weeks ago

Explore biosensing at the nanoscale

With significant progress in CMOS process technology, we are now able to manufacture nano-scale Field-Effect Transistors (FETs) down to 7 nm. This has opened doors not just for better computing but also for areas like bio-sensing for proteins and DNA.
An important innovation lies in large-scale integration of nanoscale transistors for analyzing biological systems, which could provide for massive parallelization and deliver a more complete view of a biological system at a reasonable cost. However, there are several challenges open that still need to be tackled to achieve such a large-scale bio-electronic sensor chip. In this master thesis, the student will investigate nano-sized field effect transistors, bioFETs and/or nanopore FETs, for their ability to sense single bio-molecules in electrolytic environments and try to understand the impact of the properties of the sensed molecule and/or the effect of the molecule, surface coatings and functionalization on bio-sensing.

The target molecule’s properties, such as its charge, shape, hydrophilicity, etc. play a crucial role in sensing. Synthetic molecules can be designed to probe for the impact of different properties. Moreover, the surface of the transistor sensor plays an important role in FET-based biosensing. Coatings such as Self-Assembled Monolayers (SAM), Poly-Ethylene Glycol (PEG) coatings, Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) coatings can have a strong impact on the sensor’s signal strength. For the bioFET case, the sensor needs to be functionalized with special molecules that can bind specifically with the target biomolecules floating around in the electrolyte solution. For the nanopore FET, coatings strongly impact the electroosmotic flow through the nanopore. In both cases, surface charge is a key parameter that determines signal strength and which can be tailored with coatings.

During the master thesis, these FET sensors will be characterized in detail to understand their behavior for different types of target molecules and/or for different types and methods of surface coatings. Work can also be done on analyzing the noise contribution of the coatings, molecules and the effect of the electrolytic environment. The thesis will involve working in the cleanroom, bio-chemistry labs and on electrical characterization tools. Molecular sensitivity and the potential of obtaining FET-based molecular sensors will be investigated.

Fig 1 BioFET illustration.


Type of project: Combination of internship and thesis, Thesis, Internship


Duration: minimum 3 months

Required degree: Master of Engineering Science, Master of Science, Master of Bioengineering

Required background: Bioscience Engineering, Chemistry/Chemical Engineering, Nanoscience & Nanotechnology, Physics, Electrotechnics/Electrical Engineering

Supervising scientist(s): For further information or for application, please contact: Sybren Santermans (Sybren.Santermans@imec.be) and Koen Martens (Koen.Martens@imec.be)

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