A team of researchers at University of California, Santa Barbara, has developed a new quantum mechanical-based biosensor that is potentially 10,000 times more sensitive than conventional FET-based sensors.
This new sensor offers significant potential for detecting biomolecules at ultra low concentrations, with applications in instant point-of-care diagnosis of disease, in addition to the detection of trace substances for forensics and security.
The methodology for the development of the new sensor was proposed by Kaustav Banerjee, director of the Nanoelectronics Research Lab and professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UCSB, and PhD student Deblina Sarkar. The details of their study appeared in the April 2, 2012 issue of the Applied Physics Letters journal.
Their approach beats the fundamental limits of a conventional Field-Effect-Transistor (FET) by designing a Tunnel-FET (T-FET) sensor that is faster and four orders of magnitude more sensitive.
Conventional FET-based biosensors are becoming increasingly popular in the medical, forensic and security industries as a cost-effective alternative to optical detection procedures, as they eliminate the time consuming and expensive need to label target molecules with fluorescent dye before detection.
The UCSB researchers expect their new T-FET biosensor to have a notable impact on research in genomics and proteomics, as well as pharmaceutical, clinical and forensic applications.
A patent disclosure has been filed for the new technology, which Banerjee and Sarker estimate could be ready for the marketplace in as few as two years.