Electrical monitoring of polyelectrolyte multilayer formation by means of capacitive field-effect devices
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The semiconductor field-effect platform represents a powerful tool for detecting the adsorption and binding of charged macromolecules with direct electrical readout. In this work, a capacitive electrolyte–insulator–semiconductor (EIS) field-effect sensor consisting of an Al-p-Si-SiO2 structure has been applied for real-time in situ electrical monitoring of the layer-by-layer formation of polyelectrolyte (PE) multilayers (PEM). The PEMs were deposited directly onto the SiO2 surface without any precursor layer or drying procedures. Anionic poly(sodium 4-styrene sulfonate) and cationic weak polyelectrolyte poly(allylamine hydrochloride) have been chosen as a model system. The effect of the ionic strength of the solution, polyelectrolyte concentration, number and polarity of the PE layers on the characteristics of the PEM-modified EIS sensors have been studied by means of capacitance–voltage and constant-capacitance methods. In addition, the thickness, surface morphology, roughness and wettabilityof the PE mono- and multilayers have been characterised by ellipsometry, atomic force microscopy and water contact-angle methods, respectively. To explain potential oscillations on the gate surface and signal behaviour of the capacitive field-effect EIS sensor modified with a PEM, a simplified electrostatic model that takes into account the reduced electrostatic screening of PE charges by mobile ions within the PEM has been proposed and discussed.
KeywordsField-effect Capacitive sensor Polyelectrolyte multilayer Electrical monitoring ConCap
A.G. Cherstvy gratefully acknowledges the financial support by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. The authors thank H.-P. Bochem for technical support.
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