Scientific reports

Beyond the Debye length in high ionic strength solution: direct protein detection with field-effect transistors (FETs) in human serum.

PMID 28701708


In this study, a new type of field-effect transistor (FET)-based biosensor is demonstrated to be able to overcome the problem of severe charge-screening effect caused by high ionic strength in solution and detect proteins in physiological environment. Antibody or aptamer-immobilized AlGaN/GaN high electron mobility transistors (HEMTs) are used to directly detect proteins, including HIV-1 RT, CEA, NT-proBNP and CRP, in 1X PBS (with 1%BSA) or human sera. The samples do not need any dilution or washing process to reduce the ionic strength. The sensor shows high sensitivity and the detection takes only 5 minutes. The designs of the sensor, the methodology of the measurement, and the working mechanism of the sensor are discussed and investigated. A theoretical model is proposed based on the finding of the experiments. This sensor is promising for point-of-care, home healthcare, and mobile diagnostic device.