Optimization of pH sensing using silicon nanowire field effect transistors with HfO2 as the sensing surface

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Silicon nanowire field effect transistor sensors with SiO 2/HfO2 as the gate dielectric sensing surface are fabricated using a top down approach. These sensors are optimized for pH sensing with two key characteristics. First, the pH sensitivity is shown to be independent of buffer concentration. Second, the observed pH sensitivity is enhanced and is equal to the Nernst maximum sensitivity limit of 59mV/pH with a corresponding subthreshold drain current change of ∼ 650%/pH. These two enhanced pH sensing characteristics are attributed to the use of HfO2 as the sensing surface and an optimized fabrication process compatible with silicon processing technology. © IOP Publishing Ltd.