Comparison between Field Effect Transistors and Bipolar Junction Transistors as Transducers in Electrochemical Sensors
Field effect transistors (FET) have been widely used as transducers in electrochemical sensors for over 40 years. In this report, a FET transducer is compared with the recently proposed bipolar junction transistor (BJT) transducer. Measurements are performed on two chloride electrochemical sensors that are identical in all details except for the transducer device type. Comparative measurements show that the transducer choice significantly impacts the electrochemical sensor characteristics. Signal to noise ratio is 20 to 2 times greater for the BJT sensor. Sensitivity is also enhanced: BJT sensing signal changes by 10 times per pCl, whereas the FET signal changes by 8 or less times. Also, sensor calibration curves are impacted by the transducer choice. Unlike a FET sensor, the calibration curve of the BJT sensor is independent of applied voltages. Hence, a BJT sensor can make quantitative sensing measurements with minimal calibration requirements, an important characteristic for mobile sensing applications. As a demonstration for mobile applications, these BJT sensors are further investigated by measuring chloride levels in artificial human sweat for potential cystic fibrosis diagnostic use. In summary, the BJT device is demonstrated to be a superior transducer in comparison to a FET in an electrochemical sensor.