This proposal aims to translate a unique Si nanoelectronic biosensor technology well developed at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) towards commercial products through a strong academia-industry partnership. The proposed work will develop a prototype instrument called FemtoSensor (femtoMolar sensitivity) Application Development Kit (ADK) based on a nanoscale Si on insulator (SOI) field effect transistor (FET) and to establish proof-of-concept protein-based tests towards a portable and low-cost diagnostic platform capable of label-free, rapid and early diagnostics of various diseases. The novel design of multiple Si nanochannel architecture brings critical advantages over previous bio-FETs, e.g. simultaneously achieving high sensitivity (femtoMolar), selectivity, and stability, as demonstrated by repeated tests in serum and tumor-cell lysate sample without pre-purification.
The full exploitation of the multi-nanochannel bio-FETs will contribute novel knowledge to the field of biosensor. The parametric evaluation of the sensor will address major unknowns of biosensing mechanism where strong electric field is applied, which is highly transformative to many types of sensors using electrokinetics. The proposed study will establish a numerical model of the performance curves to possibly predict sensing results, estimate correlation errors, and eliminate the need for sensor calibrations. If successful, the FemtoSensor ASK instruments with much better figure of merits than ELISA ($240M market size/year) would enable many researchers in university, research institutes, pharma, hospitals/clinics, diagnostics companies, government/defense facilities, to develop many new assays for diseases. The proposed activity will advance discovery and understanding of bio-FETs, while also promoting academic and industrial learning and training experiences. Inclusion of MBA students for entrepreneurship will complement the science and engineering student team members and give a more rich opportunity for learning and practicing innovation. Existing outreach programs from the PI's NSF CAREER award will be leveraged for this project.