Silicon Nanowire Field-Effect Biosensors

  • Dipti Rani
  • Vivek Pachauri
  • Sven IngebrandtEmail author
Part of the Springer Series on Chemical Sensors and Biosensors book series (SSSENSORS, volume 16)


Silicon (Si), still by far the most important semiconductor material in this day and age, is dominating the microelectronic industry for decades. Due to well-studied and firmly established processing methods, Si also serves as a robust technology platform for the development of new devices in different scientific areas such as optics, photovoltaics and sensor applications. One-dimensional forms of Si such as Si nanowires (SiNW), due to their high surface-to-volume ratio, well-controlled material properties and surfaces, are at the forefront of miniaturized sensor devices. In the recent years, many bottom-up and top-down methods of SiNW fabrication were established and utilized for state-of-the-art sensor platforms towards emerging sensor applications. In this chapter, we will discuss the evolution of the classical ion-sensitive field-effect transistor (ISFET) concept into its nanoscale versions. Firstly, we describe the basis of the ISFET operation and different readout methods for sensing of biomolecules of different sizes and surface charges. Then, we focus on SiNW sensor platforms that were used for the detection of various chemicals and biomolecules. Significant advances were made towards realizing single-cell assays as well as novel applications such as organ-on-a-chip. We discuss these new developments and the different detection methods utilized for SiNW sensors. Differences in bottom-up and top-down fabrication methods are summarized in brief. Further, the intrinsic limitations associated with SiNW sensors so far hindering their commercialization are discussed. In the end, other competing technologies and future prospects for the application of SiNW sensors are discussed.


Electrical double layer Ion-sensitive field-effect transistors Silicon nanowires Surface potential Threshold voltage 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biomedical Signalling Group, Informatics and Microsystem TechnologyUniversity of Applied Sciences KaiserslauternZweibrückenGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Materials in Electrical Engineering 1RWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany

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