Field-effect transistor (FET) sensors based on reduced graphene oxide (rGO) for detecting chemical species provide a number of distinct advantages, such as ultra-sensitivity, label-free, and real-time response. However, without a passivation layer, channel materials directly exposed to an ionic solution could generate multiple signals from ionic conduction through the solution droplet, doping effect, and gating effect. Therefore, a method that provides a passivation layer on the surface of rGO without degrading device performance will significantly improve device sensitivity, in which the conductivity changes solely with the gating effect. In this work, we report rGO FET sensor devices with Hg<sup>2+</sup>-dependent DNA as a probe and the use of an Al<inf>2</inf>O<inf>3</inf> layer to separate analytes from conducting channel materials. The device shows good electronic stability, excellent lower detection limit (1nM), and high sensitivity for real-time detection of Hg<sup>2+</sup> in an underwater environment. Our work shows that optimization of an rGO FET structure can provide significant performance enhancement and profound fundamental understanding for the sensor mechanism.
Chang, J., Zhou, G., Gao, X., Mao, S., Cui, S., Ocola, L. E., … Chen, J. (2015). Real-time detection of mercury ions in water using a reduced graphene oxide/DNA field-effect transistor with assistance of a passivation layer. Sensing and Bio-Sensing Research, 5, 97–104. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbsr.2015.07.009