Organic solution-gated field-effect transistors (SGFETs) can be operated at low voltages in aqueous environments, paving the way to the use of organic semiconductors in bio-sensing applications. However, it has been shown that these devices exhibit only a rather weak sensitivity to standard electrolyte parameters such as pH and ionic strength. In order to increase the sensitivity and to add specificity towards a given analyte, the covalent attachment of functional groups and enzymes to the device surface would be desirable. In this contribution we demonstrate that enzyme modified organic SGFETs can be used for the in-situ detection of penicillin in the low μM regime. In a first step, silane molecules with amine terminal groups are grafted to α-sexithiophene-based thin film transistors. Surface characterization techniques like X-ray photoemission confirm the modification of the surface with these functional groups, which are stable in standard aqueous electrolytes. We show that the presence of surface-bound amphoteric groups (e.g. amino or carboxylic moieties) increases the pH-sensitivity of the organic SGFETs. In addition, these groups serve as anchoring sites for the attachment of the enzyme penicillinase. The resulting enzyme-FETs are used for the detection of penicillin, enabling the study of the influence of the buffer strength and the pH of the electrolyte on the enzyme kinetics. The functionalization of the organic FETs shown here can be extended to a large variety of enzymes, allowing the specific detection of different chemical and biochemical analytes.
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