Multi-Wire Tri-Gate Silicon Nanowires Reaching Milli-pH Unit Resolution in One Micron Square Footprint
The signal-to-noise ratio of planar ISFET pH sensors deteriorates when reducing the area occupied by the device, thus hampering the scalability of on-chip analytical systems which detect the DNA polymerase through pH measurements. Top-down nano-sized tri-gate transistors, such as silicon nanowires, are designed for high performance solid-state circuits thanks to their superior properties of voltage-to-current transduction, which can be advantageously exploited for pH sensing. A systematic study is carried out on rectangular-shaped nanowires developed in a complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS)-compatible technology, showing that reducing the width of the devices below a few hundreds of nanometers leads to higher charge sensitivity. Moreover, devices composed of several wires in parallel further increase the exposed surface per unit footprint area, thus maximizing the signal-to-noise ratio. This technology allows a sub milli-pH unit resolution with a sensor footprint of about 1 mu m(2), exceeding the performance of previously reported studies on silicon nanowires by two orders of magnitude.