Biosensing near the neutrality point of graphene

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Science Advances  25 Oct 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 10, e1701247
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1701247

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Over the past decade, the richness of electronic properties of graphene has attracted enormous interest for electrically detecting chemical and biological species using this two-dimensional material. However, the creation of practical graphene electronic sensors greatly depends on our ability to understand and maintain a low level of electronic noise, the fundamental reason limiting the sensor resolution. Conventionally, to reach the largest sensing response, graphene transistors are operated at the point of maximum transconductance, where 1/f noise is found to be unfavorably high and poses a major limitation in any attempt to further improve the device sensitivity. We show that operating a graphene transistor in an ambipolar mode near its neutrality point can markedly reduce the 1/f noise in graphene. Remarkably, our data reveal that this reduction in the electronic noise is achieved with uncompromised sensing response of the graphene chips and thus significantly improving the signal-to-noise ratio—compared to that of a conventionally operated graphene transistor for conductance measurement. As a proof-of-concept demonstration of the usage of the aforementioned new sensing scheme to a broader range of biochemical sensing applications, we selected an HIV-related DNA hybridization as the test bed and achieved detections at picomolar concentrations.

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