Biomedical Microdevices

, 18:7 | Cite as

Nanoelectronic three-dimensional (3D) nanotip sensing array for real-time, sensitive, label-free sequence specific detection of nucleic acids

  • Rahim EsfandyarpourEmail author
  • Lu Yang
  • Zahra koochak
  • James S. Harris
  • Ronald W. Davis


The improvements in our ability to sequence and genotype DNA have opened up numerous avenues in the understanding of human biology and medicine with various applications, especially in medical diagnostics. But the realization of a label free, real time, high-throughput and low cost biosensing platforms to detect molecular interactions with a high level of sensitivity has been yet stunted due to two factors: one, slow binding kinetics caused by the lack of probe molecules on the sensors and two, limited mass transport due to the planar structure (two-dimensional) of the current biosensors. Here we present a novel three-dimensional (3D), highly sensitive, real-time, inexpensive and label-free nanotip array as a rapid and direct platform to sequence-specific DNA screening. Our nanotip sensors are designed to have a nano sized thin film as their sensing area (~ 20 nm), sandwiched between two sensing electrodes. The tip is then conjugated to a DNA oligonucleotide complementary to the sequence of interest, which is electrochemically detected in real-time via impedance changes upon the formation of a double-stranded helix at the sensor interface. This 3D configuration is specifically designed to improve the biomolecular hit rate and the detection speed. We demonstrate that our nanotip array effectively detects oligonucleotides in a sequence-specific and highly sensitive manner, yielding concentration-dependent impedance change measurements with a target concentration as low as 10 pM and discrimination against even a single mismatch. Notably, our nanotip sensors achieve this accurate, sensitive detection without relying on signal indicators or enhancing molecules like fluorophores. It can also easily be scaled for highly multiplxed detection with up to 5000 sensors/square centimeter, and integrated into microfluidic devices. The versatile, rapid, and sensitive performance of the nanotip array makes it an excellent candidate for point-of-care diagnostics, and high-throughput DNA analysis applications.


Nanotips array Nanoelectric biosensor Label-free Single point mutations DNA sequencing Nanofabrication 



The authors like to thank Weihong Xu, Bob St.Onge, Richard W. Hyman and Raeka Aiyar for useful comments and discussions. This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health Grant No. P01HG000205.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rahim Esfandyarpour
    • 2
    Email author
  • Lu Yang
    • 3
  • Zahra koochak
    • 1
    • 2
  • James S. Harris
    • 1
  • Ronald W. Davis
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Electrical EngineeringStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Stanford Genome Technology CenterPalo AltoUSA
  3. 3.Department of BioengineeringStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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