Approaches and evaluation of architectures for chemical and biological sensing based on organic thin-film field-effect transistors and immobilized ion channels integrated with silicon solid-state devices
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There is significant need to improve the sensitivity and selectivity for detecting chemical and biological agents. This need exists in a myriad of human endeavors, from the monitoring of production of consumer products to the detection of infectious agents and cancers. Although many well established methodologies for chemical and biological sensing exist, such as mass spectrometry, gas or liquid phase chromatography, enzymelinked immunosorbent (ELISA) assays, etc., it is the goal of the work described herein to outline aspects of two specific platforms which can add two very important features, low cost and portability. The platforms discussed in this dissertation are organic semiconductor field-effect transistors (OFETS), in various architectural forms and chemical modifications, and ion channels immobilized in tethered lipid bilayers integrated with solid state devices. They take advantage of several factors to make these added features possible, low cost manufacturing techniques for producing silicon and organic circuits, low physical size requirements for the sensing elements, the capability to run such circuits on low power, and the ability of these systems to directly transduce a sensing event into an electrical signal, thus making it easier to process, interpret and record a signal. In the most basic OFET functionality, many types of organic semiconductors can be used to produce transistors, each with a slightly different range of sensitivities. When used in concert, they can produce a reversible chemical "fingerprint". These OFETS can also be integrated with silicon transistors - in a hybrid device architecture - to enhance their sensitivity while maintaining their reversibility. The organic semiconductors themselves can be chemically altered with the use of small molecule receptors designed for specific chemicals or chemical functional groups to greatly enhance the interaction of these molecules with the transistor. This increases both sensitivity and selectivity for discrete devices. Specially designed nanoscale OFET configurations with individually addressable gates can enhance the sensitivity of OFETS as well. Finally, ion channels can be selected for immobilization in tethered lipid bilayer sensors which are already inherently sensitive to the analyte of choice or can be genetically modified to include receptors for many kinds of chemical or biological agents.