PhD Thesis Defense
Friday, May 20, 2011 - 09:00 to 10:00
305 Weniger Hall
Event Speaker: 
Matthew Leyden
Local Contact: 
Ethan Minot

As electronics continue to get smaller and reach nanometer size scales, new avenues of integrating biology and electronics become available. For example, nanoscale field-effect transistors have been integrated with single neurons to detect neuron activity. Other researchers have used nanoscale semiconducting materials to build electronic noses.

This talk addresses many issues that are relevant for electrical sensing applications in biological environments. As an experimental platform we have used carbon nanotube field-effect transistors for the detection of biological proteins. Using this experimental platform we have probed many of properties that control sensor function, such as surface potentials, the response of field effect transistors to absorbed material, and the mass transport of proteins. Field effect transistor biosensors are a topic of active research, and were first demonstrated in 1962. Despite decades of research, the mass transport of proteins onto a sensor surface has not been quantified experimentally, and theoretical modeling has not been reconciled with some notable experiments. Protein transport is an important issue because signals from low analyte concentrations can take hours to develop. Guided by mass transport modeling we modified our sensors to demonstrate a 2.5 fold improvement in sensor response time. It is easy to imagine a 25 fold improvement in sensor response time using more modern fabrication techniques. This improvement would allow for the detection of low concentrations of analyte on the order of minutes instead of hours.