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1. WO2016019381 - DÉTECTION EN TEMPS RÉEL DE CONTAMINANTS DE L'EAU

Note: Texte fondé sur des processus automatiques de reconnaissance optique de caractères. Seule la version PDF a une valeur juridique

[ EN ]

REAL-TIME DETECTION OF WATER CONTAMINANTS

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims priority to U.S. Application Serial No. 62/032,280, filed August 1, 2014, which is incorporated by reference herein.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERAL FUNDING

[0002] This invention was made with government support under grant number 0968887 awarded by the National Science Foundation. The government has certain rights in the invention.

BACKGROUND

[0003] Access to clean water is one of the grand challenges for engineering. Mercury and its compounds are among major aqueous contaminants due to their high toxicity and risk to human health. Even a trace amount of mercury intake can lead to acute or chronic damage to human body. Moreover, mercury and its derivatives also cause detrimental effects to ecosystem. Therefore, it is important to develop methods to efficiently and effectively detect their presence in water systems, especially at innocuous levels. Many other contaminants present challenges to access to clean water.

[0004] In general, FET-based biosensors are devices that respond to changes in its' biological environment and converts this response into a signal that can be read. FET-based biosensors have been used to detect biomolecules, such as DNA and single-bacterium, and biological conditions, such as pH. The detection of water contaminants in a sample provides valuable information for research and commercial applications, such as monitoring of environmental contamination or water supply systems.

SUMMARY

[0005] In one embodiment, the invention provides a field-effect transistor sensor for detecting a target in an aqueous environment comprising: a reduced graphene oxide layer coated with a passivation layer; one or more gold nanoparticles in contact with the passivation layer; and at least one probe bound to the one or more nanoparticles; wherein the nanoparticles are discrete nanoparticles.

[0006] In another embodiment, the invention provides a method for maintaining electronic stability in a field-effect transistor based water sensor comprising coating a reduced graphene oxide layer with aluminum oxide layer, wherein the aluminum oxide layer is about 1 to about 5 nanometers thick.

[0007] In a further embodiment, the invention provides a method for detecting a target in an aqueous sample comprising: contacting an aqueous sample with a sensor according to the present invention; applying a current to the sensor; and detecting a change in an electrical characteristic.

[0008] Other aspects of the invention will become apparent by consideration of the detailed description and accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0009] FIGS. 1A-B show a schematic of the FET -based biosensor.

[0010] FIGS. 2A-E show in (A) and (B) SEM images of TRMGO sheets across the electrode gaps. AFM data (tapping mode) of TRMGO on the silicon wafer; (C) height and (d=D) phase images of the same zone at a cross-sectional area. The dashed line indicates a scanning trace of the TRMGO. (E) Height profile of TRMGO obtained by scanning from bare silicon wafer to TRMGO.

[0011] FIG. 3A-D show in (A) The FET I-V curve of TRMGO on Si02/Si substrate (ISD = 100 mV). Inset shows an SEM image of a monolayer GO sheet bridging the electrode gap. (B) ISD-VSD output characteristics of the TRMGO FET device at different bottom-gate VG from -2 to 2 V with an interval of 1 V. (C) The FET I-V curve of the crumpled GO FET device. Inset shows an SEM image of a crumpled GO across the electrode gap. (D) The FET I-V curve of the multilayer GO FET device. Inset shows an SEM image of multilayer GO sheets across the electrode gap.

[0012] FIGS. 4A-D show in (A) Typical gate voltage dependence (VSD = 0.1 V) of ISD upon the introduction of E. coli cells of different concentrations. (B) Dynamic response of the devices exposed to different concentrations of E. coli cells for specific binding in the TRMGO FET device. (C) Non-specific binding in the TRMGO FET device (without tmti-E.

coli antibody probes). (D) The calibration curve of the TRMGO FET device (sensitivity S = ΔΙ/Ιο vs. concentration). Error bars were obtained through multiple measurements.

[0013] FIG. 5 shows a comparison of the sensor sensitivity in response to E. coli 0157:H7 (104 cfu/mL), E. coli DH5a (104 cfu/mL), and Dickeya dadantii 3937 (104 cfu/mL). Error bars were obtained through multiple measurements.

[0014] FIGS. 6A-B show SEM images of a GO sheet (A) and an rGO sheet decorated with TGA-AuNPs (B) spanning across interdigitated electrodes.

[0015] FIGS. 7A-B show Ids- Vds (A) and Ids- Vgs (B) characteristics of an rGO/TGA-AuNP hybrid sensor exposed to water (black) and 10"5 M Hg2+ ion (red) solutions (at 0.01 V drain voltage).

[0016] FIG. 8 shows the dynamic response (sensitivity versus time) of an rGO/TGA-AuNP hybrid sensor for Hg2+ ion concentrations ranging from 2.5x 10"8 M to 1.42 x 10"5 M.

[0017] FIG. 9 shows an rGO/TGA-AuNP hybrid sensor showed no oblivious response to Na+ and Ca2+ concentrations ranging from 2.5x 10"8 M to 1.42 x 10"5 M.

[0018] FIG. 10 shows the response to a variety of individual metal ions: Zn2+, Cd2+, and Fe .

[0019] FIG. 1 1 shows the dynamic response (sensitivity versus time) of an rGO device with TGA modification for Pb2+.

[0020] FIG. 12 shows the dynamic response (sensitivity versus time) of an rGO device with TGA modification for Cu2+.

[0021] FIGS. 13A-D show FET curves of sensors on Si02/Si substrate (ISD = 100 mV): (A) bare rGO FET sensor; (B) rGO FET with an A1203 film coating; (C) rGO/Al203 with Au NP coating; (D) rGO/Au NP FET device without an A1203 film coating.

[0022] FIGS. 14A-G show the dynamic responses of the rGO/Al203/DNA sensor to Hg2+ (A) and other common metal ions: (B) Na+, (C) Fe3+, (D) Ca2+, (E) Pb2+, and (F) Cd2+. (G) Sensor sensitivity (relative resistance change, %) versus different metal ion concentrations. For all measurements, VDS= 0.1 V and 0 V.

[0023] FIG. 15 shows sensing data of an rGO/A^CVDNA sensor for detecting proteins (E. coli antibody and avidin).

[0024] FIG. 16 shows the dynamic response of an rGO/Al203 sensor (without decoration of Au NPs) for detecting Hg±.

[0025] FIGS. 17A-B show the interference testing of the sensor platform. Dynamic response of the rGO/A^CVDNA FET device exposed to mixed metal ions (A) including Hg2+ and (B) without Hg2+.

[0026] FIG. 18 shows the performance of an rGO/A^CVDNA sensor for detecting Hg2+ in tap water.

[0027] FIG. 19 shows a comparison of detection with and without an AI2O3 insulating layer on the rGO based field effect transistor (FET) electrodes.

[0028] FIG. 20 shows a sensitivity comparison with and without AI2O3 insulating layer on the rGO based FET electrodes

[0029] FIG. 21 shows the sensor performance decay comparison with and without AI2O3 insulating layer on the rGO based FET electrodes.

[0030] FIG. 22 shows the real-time response from the FET type rGO-based water sensor in response to changes in the Hg2+ concentrations.

[0031] FIG. 23 shows the sensing performance of the rGO/Al203/DNA sensor in tap water compared to DI water.

[0032] FIGS. 24A-D show the effect of varying thicknesses of the AI2O3 layer.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0033] Before any embodiments of the invention are explained in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and the arrangement of components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the following drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or of being carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology used herein is for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting.

[0034] The use of "including," "comprising," or "having" and variations thereof herein is meant to encompass the items listed thereafter and equivalents thereof as well as additional items. Unless specified or limited otherwise, the terms "mounted," "connected," "supported," and "coupled" and variations thereof are used broadly and encompass both direct and indirect mountings, connections, supports, and couplings. Further, "connected" and "coupled" are not restricted to physical or mechanical connections or couplings.

[0035] Recitation of ranges of values herein are merely intended to serve as a shorthand method of referring individually to each separate value falling within the range, unless otherwise indicated herein, and each separate value is incorporated into the specification as if it were individually recited herein. All methods described herein can be performed in any suitable order unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context. The use of any and all examples, or exemplary language (e.g., "such as") provided herein, is intended merely to better illuminate the invention and does not pose a limitation on the scope of the invention unless otherwise claimed. No language in the specification should be construed as indicating any nonclaimed element as essential to the practice of the invention.

[0036] It also is understood that any numerical range recited herein includes all values from the lower value to the upper value. For example, if a concentration range is stated as 1% to 50%, it is intended that values such as 2% to 40%, 10% to 30%, or 1% to 3%, etc., are expressly enumerated in this specification. These are only examples of what is specifically intended, and all possible combinations of numerical values between and including the lowest value and the highest value enumerated are to be considered to be expressly stated in this application.

[0037] Further, no admission is made that any reference, including any patent or patent document, cited in this specification constitutes prior art. In particular, it will be understood that, unless otherwise stated, reference to any document herein does not constitute an admission that any of these documents forms part of the common general knowledge in the art in the United States or in any other country. Any discussion of the references states what their authors assert, and the applicant reserves the right to challenge the accuracy and pertinency of any of the documents cited herein

[0038] Electrical detection of biomolecules using nanomaterials can often achieve high sensitivity because nanomaterials are extremely sensitive to electronic perturbations in the surrounding environment. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and CNT-based field-effect transistor (FETs) biosensors have been used for the detection of protein binding and DNA hybridization events. Although CNT-based FETs are promising candidates for biosensors with high sensitivity, the device sensitivity is still limited by surface area and electrical properties of CNTs. CNTs as produced consist of both semiconducting and metallic tubes and there are no available methods for producing pure semiconducting or metallic tubes. The variations in the tube properties lead to devices with varying characteristics and performance, which is an obstacle to CNT-based FET reliability.

[0039] Graphene, a single layer of carbon atoms in a two-dimensional honeycomb lattice, has potential applications in the electrical detection of biological species due to their unique physical properties. Graphene-based sheets are flat and large in lateral dimensions, which make it easier for device fabrication (e.g., making electrical contact with electrodes).

Compared to CNTs, graphene-based sheets have a higher carrier mobility and specific surface area, which enhances the sensor performance. The use of graphene has been explored for various applications. For example, large-sized graphene film FETs were fabricated for the electrical detection of DNA hybridization; graphene oxide (GO) was used in single-bacterium and label-free DNA sensors, and electrolyte-gated graphene FETs was used for electrical detection of pH. Despite the sparse demonstration of graphene for biosensing applications, graphene-based FETs have not been reported for detection of protein binding (e.g., antibody to antigen) events. Methods of directly immobilizing proteins onto CNTs or graphene oxide have been shown to be unstable and the attached proteins can be readily removed through simple washing processes that are frequently used during the biosensor fabrication. This introduces undesirable effects such as poor device reliability/repeatability and non-specificity of the sensor.

[0040] The present disclosure relates to a field-effect transistor (FET)-based biosensor and uses thereof, and in particular, to FET -based biosensors using graphene-based sheets decorated with nanoparticle-probe conjugates. The disclosed reduced GO (rGO) sheet FET-based biosensor proves to be surprisingly excellent at detecting contaminants, despite the fact that the electronic properties of reduced GO are not as good as those of pure graphene.

[0041] The present disclosure further provides a reliable method to detect water contaminants in real-time. In one embodiment, the present invention provides a method to immobilize probes in graphene-based biosensors and a methodology for avoiding nonspecific probe immobilization on graphene-based sheets and providing at the same time a stable binding for probes through robust nanoparticles. The immobilization of the probes via the nanoparticles allows for a more stable attachment of the probes to the nanostructure. The more stable attachment provides improved device reliability/repeatability and improved specificity of the sensor.

[0042] In an aspect, the present disclosure provides a field-effect transistor sensor comprising a reduced graphene-oxide layer coated with a passivation layer; gold nanoparticles in contact with the passivation layer; and probes bound to the gold nanoparticles.

[0043] In an aspect, the present invention provides an rGO FET -based sensor with Hg2+-dependent DNA as a probe. An AI2O3 layer on rGO may be employed to separate analytes from conducting channel materials. The device shows good electronic stability, excellent lower detection limit (e.g. about 1 nM), and high sensitivity for real-time detection of Hg2+ in an underwater environment.

[0044] In some embodiments, the passivation layer may include aluminum, zinc, titanium, silicon, or an oxide or nitride thereof, or a synthetic resin such as, but are not limited to, polymethyl methacrylate, polyester, polystyrene, polyethylene terephthalate, polycarbonate, polyvinylidene chloride or triacetate. For example, the passivation layer may comprise aluminum oxide. Suitably, the passivation layer is about 1 to about 5 nanometers thick. In certain embodiments, the passivation layer is about 3 nanometers thick.

[0045] With ultra-thin 1 nm AI2O3 deposition, the device may be only covered by discontinuous AI2O3 islands. In that case, the 1 nm AI2O3 layer could only be functional to passivate the rGO surface, but not fully protect rGO from the adsorption of free metal ions. Therefore, 1 nm thick layer deposition may lead to a lower sensitivity. It is possible that sensor performance could be further enhanced according to the practical need by simply depositing AI2O3 passivation layers with varying thicknesses and controlling the uniformity of passivation films. For example, better lower detection limits could potentially be achieved by adjusting the thickness of AI2O3 properly to enhance the gate electrical effect on the sensor device.

[0046] In some embodiments, the nanoparticles are discrete nanoparticles, that is, the areal density of the nanoparticles is less than a monolayer. The nanoparticles may be uniformly distributed on the sensor. Suitably, the nanoparticles are sufficiently far apart so that there is no electronic communication between the nanoparticles. In some embodiments the nanoparticles may be about 3 to about 5 nanometers in size. In some embodiments, the nanoparticles have an interparticle spacing of about 5 to about 10 nanometers. Suitably, the nanoparticles may have an interparticle spacing of about 8 nanometers.

[0047] The disclosed FET -based sensors may contain more than one probe. In some embodiments, the disclosed FET -based sensor may contain multiple probes which allow for detection of more than one target in a single sample. For example, multiple electrode pairs may be deposited onto one sensor chip, rGO and AI2O3 may be deposited on each of the electrode pairs, and each electrode pair labeled with a probe.

[0048] In some embodiments, each electrode pair has its own signal acquisition channel. When water passes the sensor surface, if one of the electrode pair shows signals, the corresponding contaminant could be determined. If multiple electrode pairs show signals, there are multiple contaminants in the water.

[0049] In some embodiments, a probe conjugated to the nanoparticle may include a protein, nucleic acid molecule, microorganism, and a low molecular weight organic compound. Examples include, but are not limited to, thioglycolic acid (TGA), glutathione (GSH), cysteine (Cys), dithiothreitol (DTT), 5-[l,2]dithi 5-[l,2]dithiolan-3-yl-pentanoic acid [2-(4-amino-phenyl)ethyl] amide (DPAA), ferritin, and a tin-organic receptor. One of ordinary skill in the art would be able to identify a suitable probe for a desired target.

[0050] The target may be of any origin, including natural, agricultural, water treatment process, human- or animal-caused, or microbiological (e.g., viral, prokaryotic, and eukaryotic organisms, including bacterial, protozoal, and fungal, etc.) depending on the particular purpose of the test. In some embodiments, the target is a water contaminant regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, see, e.g. those listed at water.epa.gov. In some embodiments, the target may be a cation, such as Pb and Hg ions. In some embodiments, the target may be an anion, such as fluoride, phosphates, chlorides, or nitrates. In some embodiments, the target may be a metal, e.g., a heavy metal, such as lead, arsenic, cadmium, copper, iron, or mercury. In some embodiments, the target may a microorganism, such as bacteria, e.g. Escherichia coli, Cryptosporidium, Giardia sp., or Legionella sp., a virus, or other fungi. In some embodiments, the target may be an organic water contaminant, such as benzene and endrin. In some embodiments, the target may be an ion such that the pH of the sample may be determined. In some embodiments, the target may be a radionuclide, such as radium (e.g. radium 226 or radium 228) and uranium. In some embodiments, the target may be a water additive, such as a disinfectant or disinfectant byproduct, or fluoride. In some embodiments, the target may be a disinfectant, e.g. chlorine, chloramines, or chlorine dioxide, or a disinfectant byproduct, e.g. bromate, chlorite, haloacetic acids, or trihalomethanes.

[0051] For example, if bacteria, such as E. coli, is a target, the probe may be an antibody designed to bind the bacteria. If lead is a target, the probe may be GSH or DNAzyme. If mercury is a target, the probe may be thioglycolic acid (TGA). If arsenic is the target, the probe may be DTT. If cadmium is a target, the probe may be cysteine (Cys). If a phosphate is the target, the probe may be ferritin. If a chloride is a target, the probe may be a tin-organic receptor. If the target is a nitrate, the probe may be 5-[l,2]dithi 5-[l,2]dithiolan-3-yl-pentanoic acid [2-(4-amino-phenyl)ethyl]amide (DPAA).

[0052] In one aspect, the present invention provides FET -based sensors with immobilized anti-is. coli antibodies which demonstrate real-time, label-free, step-wise, target-specific, and highly sensitive electrical detection of E. coli cells at concentrations as low as about 10 cfu/mL, and the sensitivity increases with increasing E. coli concentrations up to about 103 cfu/mL. In an embodiment, mercury (II) ion concentration can be detected by the sensor as low as about 2.5 x 10"8 M.

[0053] The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set the maximum contaminant level for arsenic in drinking water as 0.010 mg/L, for mercury as 0.002 mg/L, for lead as 0.015 mg/L, and for cadmium as 0.005 mg/L. One of skill in the art would be able to determine the maximum contaminant level for a given contaminant, for example, at www. water . epa. gov.

[0054] The probe may be conjugated to the nanoparticle using methods known in the art. For example, stable gold nanoparticle protein conjugates can be prepared by passive adsorption due to electrostatic and hydrophobic interactions between the protein and the surface layer of the colloidal gold. Conjugation methods also include chemical complexing, which may be either ionic or non-ionic in nature, or covalent bonding. An example of chemical complexing method is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,521,289, which describes reducing a gold salt in an organic solvent containing a triarylphosphine or mercapto-alkyl derivative bearing a reactive substituent, X, to give small nanoparticles carrying X substituents on linkers bound to the surface through Au-P or Au-S bonds. The colloidal solution is treated with a protein bearing a substituent Y that reacts with X to link the protein covalently to the nanoparticle. An example of binding oligonucleotides to nanoparticles is disclosed in U.S. Patent No. 7,208,587, which describes attaching oligonucleotides to nanoparticles by means of a linker comprising a cyclic disulfide. Biomolecules conjugated to nanoparticles are commercially available. Examples include gold nanoparticles labeled with anti-immunoglobulin G.

[0055] In some embodiments, the nanoparticle-probe conjugate is decorated onto the nanostructure using an electrospray and electrostatic force directed assembly method or a drop-casting method. An example of an electrospray and electrostatic force directed assembly method is disclosed in Mao et al, Nanotechnology (2008) 19:455610, which describes decorating carbon nanotubes with nanocrystals using a combination of an electrospray technique, which creates a high level of electrical charge on the electrosprayed aerosol nanocrystals, with directed assembly using an electrostatic field. In a drop-casting method, a nanoparticle-probe conjugate solution is dropped onto the nanostructure and allowed to dry. Various factors and conditions may influence the drop-cast procedure such as the liquid amount, liquid viscosity, liquid evaporation rates, drop height, drop angle, drop atmosphere, drop splash, the dropping device and the desired depth or height, width, configuration and other dimensions of the nanostructure to be decorated.

[0056] Using these non-chemical methods, the nanoparticle, and hence the nanoparticle-probe conjugate, is attached to the nanostructure using non-covalent bonding, such as hydrogen bonds, electrostatic bonds, van der Waals forces, and hydrophobic bonds. The nanoparticles and hence the nanoparticle-probe conjugates may be attached to the nanostructure by van der Waals forces. The non-covalent attachment of the nanoparticle to

the nanostructure avoids the effect of changing the electrical characteristics of the nanostructure or graphene-based sheet that may occur with a covalent bond, such as when wet-chemistry strategies are used to assemble nanoparticles onto nanostructures.

[0057] In some embodiments, the source and drain electrodes may be formed of any material having electrical conductivity. Examples include, but are not limited to, gold (Au), platinum (Pt) or palladium (Pd). In some embodiments, the substrate may include silicon, silicon dioxide, aluminum oxide, sapphire, germanium, gallium arsenide an alloy of silicon and germanium or indium phosphide. An example of a substrate includes a Si wafer.

[0058] The method of detecting a target in a sample includes contacting the FET -based biosensor with a sample containing or suspected of containing the target and monitoring a change in an electrical characteristic. The method of detecting the target involves measuring an electrical signal generated by the conversion of the interaction between the target and the probe of the sensor into corresponding output information and/or signals.

[0059] After the introduction of target, the target interacts with the probe of the nanoparticle-probe conjugate and induces significant changes in the electrical characteristics of the FET -based biosensor device, which would be investigated by FET and direct current (dc) measurements. In some embodiments, the change in an electrical characteristic as a function of time indicates the presence of the target. In some embodiments, the electrical characteristic may include conductance, capacitance, potential, resistance and inductance.

[0060] Suitably, there is a linear relationship between Ra and Ra-Ri (Ra: device resistance before dropping; Ra-Ri: device resistance change). In one example, an FET -based sensor according to the present invention showed a very uniform dynamic curve for detection of Pb ions with a detection limit of about 0.1 nM. For ions, such as Pb and Hg, the detection limit is as low as about 1 nM. For bacteria, such as E.coli, the detection limit is as low as about 1 cfu/mL.

[0061] In some embodiments, the binding event between the target and the probe would induce an increase in the electrical signal. In some embodiments, the electrical signal would increase at least 0.001%, 0.01%, 0.1%, 1%, 10%, 20%, 50%, 70% or more, compared to the electrical signal before the sample was added to the FET-based biosensor or compared to the electrical signal of a control sample. For example, an increase in resistance indicates the presence of a target in the sample.

[0062] In some embodiments, the binding event between the probe and the target would induce a decrease in the electrical signal. In some embodiments, the electrical signal would decrease at least 0.001%, 0.01%, 0.1%, 1%, 10%, 20%, 50%, 70% or more, compared to the electrical signal before the sample was added to the FET-based biosensor or compared to the electrical signal of a control sample. A control sample may include a similar composition to the tested sample but without any target or alternatively, may contain a known quantity of the target.

[0063] Without wishing to be bound by theory, it is believed that sensing signal from the hybrid structure of rGO decorated with recognition-group-functionalized Au NPs is based on the fact that channel conductance changes sensitively due to either electron donating or withdrawing effect of target ions. A specific recognition group (or a probe) is anchored to the rGO surface through Au NPs and further used to immobilize target ions. Due to the work function difference between Au NPs (5.1-5.47 eV) and reduced graphene oxide (4.2 eV), electrons may transfer between the rGO and the Au NPs and thereby change the drain current. The adsorption of target ions onto probes may lead to a carrier concentration change in rGO due to the effective electronic transfer between the rGO and Au NPs. The electrical detection of target agent that binds to probes may be accomplished by measuring the change in the electrical characteristics of the device.

[0064] The change in the electrical characteristic may be transmitted to a display. That display may be on a unit comprising the sensor, or it may be on a smartphone or other handheld device. In some embodiment, the display may be remote and the change in electrical characteristic may be transmitted wirelessly to the display. For example, the disclosed FET-based sensors may be present in a residential water supply system and the change in electrical characteristic may be transmitted via the existing wireless networks used for the water meter.

[0065] The disclosed FET-based biosensors are suitable for home or industrial use. For example, the disclosed FET-based sensors may be used to analyze a waste-water treatment process, to optimize chemical usage for water treatment, or to analyze water additives, such as fluorine or chlorine. In some embodiments, the disclosed FET-based sensors may be used in the water distribution system to monitor the water supply.

[0066] The invention is further described in the following non-limiting examples.

EXAMPLES

Example 1. Synthesis of FET-Based Sensors

[0067] Materials. Graphene oxide (GO) was ordered from ACS MATERIAL, which was synthesized by using the modified Hummer's method. 2-aminoethanethiol (AET) and glutaraldehyde (GA) were purchased from Sigma-Aldrich. Tween 20 and cold water fish gelatin were ordered from Tedpella. Anti-E. coli 0157:H7 antibodies and E. coli 0157:H7 cells were purchased from KPL, Inc. Phosphate buffered saline (PBS) (pH 7.4, * 1) (Fisher BioReagents) was used as the solvent for anti-E.coli 0157:H7 antibodies. All solutions were prepared with deionized (DI) water (Cellgro). Cell culture grade water was purchased from Mediatech, Inc.

[0068] Device fabrication. Thermally-reduced monolayer graphene oxide (TRMGO) FETs were fabricated by self-assembly of GO sheets on the AET-modified Au interdigitated electrodes with both finger-width and inter-finger spacing (source and drain separation) of about 2 μιη and a thickness of 50 nm. The electrodes were fabricated using a photolithography process on a highly-doped Si wafer with a top layer of dry-formed S1O2 (thickness of 200 nm). The prepared electrodes were immersed into AET (lmg/mL) solution at a concentration of 10 mM for 10 min and a monolayer of AET was assembled on the electrodes. The modified device was immersed into a GO dispersion with the assistance of sonication (Bransonic 1510-DTH); without sonication, the multilayer or folded layers of GO will form on the electrodes. After 1 min, a monolayer of GO film was deposited on the electrodes due to electrostatic interactions. The device was next annealed in an argon flow (1 liter per minute) for 1 h at 400 °C to reduce oxygen-containing groups in order to improve the semiconducting property and to reduce the junction barriers between the Au electrodes and TRMGO. Isolated Au nanoparticles (NPs) as scaffolds for immobilizing special probes were deposited on the TRMGO using an RF (60 Hz) Emitech K550x Sputter coater apparatus with an Au target (99.999% purity) at an Ar pressure of 0.03 mbar. The deposition time was 2 s with a working current of 10 mA.

[0069] Immobilization. The prepared device was immersed into an AET (lmg/mL) solution with a concentration of 10 mM for 1 h. After being thoroughly rinsed with DI water and dried under a stream of nitrogen gas, the modified device was treated by a 25% GA solution at 25 °C for 1 h. After that, the device was incubated in the PBS containing anti-E. coli 0157 (10 μg/mL) antibodies at 4 °C for 12 h. Finally, the device was incubated with a blocking buffer (0.1% tween 20) for 2 h at room temperature and then washed with the cell culture water.

[0070] Characterization. Electrical measurements were performed on TRMGO sensors using a Keithley 4200 semiconductor characterization system at room temperature. The sensing signal of the device was recorded by monitoring the change in the drain current (ISD) for a given source-drain voltage (VSD) when the device was exposed to different concentrations of target materials.

[0071] To inspect topographies of self-assembled TRMGO sheets on the electrodes, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) were employed. FIG. 2 A shows SEM images of TRMGO distribution on Au electrodes. The lateral dimensions of TRMGO sheets typically ranged from several hundred nanometers to several micrometers on the devices with largest TRMGO sheets exceeding 3 μιη (FIG. 2A). The area density of TRMGO sheets across electrodes was evaluated as approximately 5 sheets per 10 μιη2, which confirms that TRMGO sheets were uniformly distributed on the modified electrodes.

[0072] FIG. 2B shows an individual transparent TRMGO sheet on the electrodes, which indicates the GO sheet is comfortably positioned across the gap between the electrodes. FIG. 2C and FIG. 2C show an AFM image of a TRMGO sheet on the device. The thickness of the sheet measured through the cross-sectional height profiles from AFM data is 0.8-0.9 nm, which is consistent with monolayer TRMGO sheets. Both SEM and AFM images show that GO monolayers are morphologically stable with respect to the thermal reduction process.

[0073] For FET sensors, the field effect responses of TRMGO devices should be rapid and sensitive. To investigate the electrical properties of TRMGO FET devices, measurements were carried out in air at room temperature using the back-gated FET devices. FIG. 3A shows the typical ISD-VQ characteristics of a TRMGO FET device, in which VQ is the gate voltage and ISD is the drain current. While the gate bias was varied from -40 to +40 V, the current of the device decreased from 139 to 59 nA. The decrease in conductivity with increasing voltage indicates the TRMGO sheets are p-type semiconducting materials. More importantly, the proposed TRMGO device shows good switching performance with an on/off current ratio of 2.35. This has been repeated with more than one hundred devices, which show similar electrical properties such as conductivity (-140 Ml) and current on/off ratio (~ 2.3). Thus, the electrostatic self-assembly method with the assistance of ultrasonication can be used to form stable, uniform devices over a large area without aggregation.

[0074] To further examine the electrical characteristics of TRMGO FET devices, a bottom-gate voltage was applied on the devices from -2 to 2 V with an interval of 1 V. The drain-source current decreased with increasing gate voltage, as shown in FIG. 3B, which indicates the device response is sensitive to the gate voltage. Moreover, devices displayed an Ohmic-contact behavior, indicating the sensing mechanism in the TRMGO FET system is dominated by electrostatic gating. In the sonication fabrication process of the device, GO sheets deposited on the electrodes by the self-assembly method are monolayer and transparent, and the GO-based FET device shows good semiconducting properties. Without sonication, GO sheets deposited on the electrodes are likely to form folded or multilayer GO films (insets of FIG. 3C and 3D), leading to devices with a lower on/off current ratio (1.41 and 1.27 for folded and multilayer GO, respectively). For FET biosensor applications, it is generally believed that the sensitivity has a strong dependence on the on/off current ratio of sensors, especially on the subthreshold slope.

Example 2. Detection of E. Coli.

[0075] The FET -based sensors prepared according to Example 1 were used to detect E. Coli. The sensing performance of TRMGO FET devices was investigated using anti-is. coli antibodies as probes. The device was exposed to various concentrations of E. coli cells in the cell culture grade water. The changes in transfer curves of the FET sensor after adding selected concentrations of E. coli cells (10, 102, 103, and 104 cfu/mL) have been investigated. It can be observed that the conductance of the devices continued to increase with increasing concentrations of E. coli cells (FIG. 4A). As the TRMGO FET was operated in the p-type region 0 V), the device conductance increase is due to increased hole concentration, which is induced by the highly negatively charged bacterial wall and is in agreement with previous reports.

[0076] The dynamic response of TRMGO-based devices for detecting E. coli cells was measured with the specific binding as shown in FIG. 4B and non-specific binding as shown in FIG. 4C, respectively. The conductance of the device with specific binding increased correspondingly with the addition of E. coli cell solution, and the current change of the device was around 1.1% with the introduction of 10 cfu/mL. For comparison, a control experiment was carried out on a device without modification of anti-is. coli antibody probes. In contrast, controlled injection of E. coli cells had almost no effect on the conductance of the TRMGO devices without the presence of probes (FIG. 4C). Therefore, it is confirmed that the conductance increase is solely attributed to the specific binding between probes and target materials.

[0077] The sensor sensitivity (relative conductivity change, %) is presented as a function of E. coli cell concentration in FIG. 4D. The TRMGO device had a higher sensitivity for all E. coli cell concentrations than that of the device with non-specific binding. For specific binding, the sensitivity gradually increased linearly for E. coli cell concentrations from 10 cfu/mL to 103 cfu/mL and the response amplitude depends on the E. coli cell concentration. If more E. coli cells bind to anti-is. coli antibodies on the devices, a larger gating effect will be introduced and more significant carrier concentration change will result, thereby leading to more conductivity change in the sensor. This sensing mechanism was also confirmed by transfer curves in a previous report; however, at a higher concentration of 104 cfu/mL, the sensor signal was not directly proportional to the increased cell concentration because the sensor became saturated. This phenomenon indicates that most of the binding sites on the devices are occupied by target analytes at the 104 cfu/mL concentration level. For nonspecific binding (without anti-is. coli cell probes), the TRMGO device showed only a very weak response, because the blocking buffer can effectively block physical adsorption of E. coli cells on the device. Thus, the normalized sensitivity N can be written as

N = cil/k + c)-1

where c and k represent the concentration of E. coli cells in the solution and the equilibrium constant between the E. coli cells and anti-is. coli antibodies, respectively. The sensor response can be expressed in a linear form to logarithmic concentration in a certain range of concentrations (10, 102, and 103 cfu/mL). By fitting the data in FIG. 4D using this equation, the equilibrium constants are estimated as 6.8 x 104 mL/cfu in specific binding and 1.3 x 103 mL/cfu in non-specific binding, respectively. The specific binding equilibrium constant

is much higher, which means that the specific binding offers much more sensitive responses than non-specific binding for detection of E. coli bacteria.

[0078] To establish the sensor's specificity for E. coli cells, it was interrogated with the non-pathogenic E. coli strain DH5a (104 cfu/mL) and the plant-pathogenic bacterium Dickeya dadantii 3937 (104 cfu/mL) with the same procedure as that used for specific detection of the E. coli 0157:H7 cells. The performance evaluation of the sensor's specificity has been summarized in FIG. 5. It indicates that the sensor sensitivity from the E. coli DH5a (1.4%) and Dickeya dadantii 3937 (1.3%) is significantly smaller than that from the E. coli 0157:H7 (7.3%). This result further confirms that the sensor response is from the binding of E. coli cells to anti-is. coli antibodies and the target materials can be selectively detected by the TRMGO FET sensor.

Example 3. Detection of Hg(II) Ions

[0079] Materials. Graphite oxide was synthesized by the oxidative treatment of purified natural graphite (SP-1, Bay Carbon, MI) using a modified Hummers method. The graphite oxide was dissolved into water and centrifuged to remove possible agglomeration material. The graphite oxide was then fully exfoliated in water due to its strong hydrophilicity originated from the existence of oxygen functional groups. Individual graphene oxide (GO) sheets can be obtained from the stable suspension with the aid of ultrasonication.

[0080] Au NPs (5 nm colloidal gold) were purchased from BB international. TGA was purchased from Sigma Aldrich. Mercury (II), sodium (I), and calcium (II) ion solutions were prepared by adding chloride salts in DI water.

[0081] Device fabrication. The sensing device consisted of a 200 nm thermally-formed S1O2 on Si substrates, where S1O2 layer acted as the gate dielectric and Si as a back gate. Interdigitated electrodes with both finger-width and inter-finger spacing (source-drain separation) of about 1 μιη were patterned using an e-beam lithography process followed by e-beam deposition of Cr/Au and lift-off. To place GO sheets between interdigitated electrodes, one droplet of the GO suspension was pipetted onto the electrodes and dried under room temperature. Thermal reduction of GO was carried out in a tube furnace (Lindberg Blue, TF55035A-1) by heating for 1 hr at 300 °C in Ar flow (1 1pm) to remove residue solvents, reduce graphene oxide, and improve the contact between the rGO sheet and electrodes. After heating, samples were quickly cooled to room temperature within ~5 min with the assistance of a blower. After the annealing process, rGO was found to be immobilized between interdigitated fingers even after several cycles of washing and drying, which was confirmed by SEM imaging. Au NPs were then assembled onto the surface of rGO sheets by a previously reported method, which combines electrospray with an electrostatic force directed assembly (ESFDA) technique. The Au NPs assembly time was around 2 hrs. To exclude solution-induced interference to the device, a standard e-beam lithography process was used to encapsulate the interdigitated electrodes regions with 400-nm thick 4% polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), leaving only the sensing region (rGO coated with Au NPs) accessible for the liquid solutions. Briefly, PMMA solution was first spin coated onto the device. E-beam lithography was then used to pattern the PMMA layer such that the PMMA covering sensing region (between electrodes) could be removed, resulting in encapsulated electrodes and open sensing area. After that, the device was submerged in 10 mM TGA solution for 24 hrs at room temperature to functionalize Au NPs. The sensor device was then rinsed with DI water for several times to remove extra TGA.

[0082] Characterization. Transport and electrical measurements were performed on rGO/TGA-AuNP hybrid sensors using a Keithley 4200 semiconductor characterization system. Three-terminal FET measurements were employed for device transport characteristics only, and all other electrical tests were operated by two-terminal measurement with a floating gate. Electrical conductance of the rGO/TGA-AuNP hybrid sensor was measured by fixing the drain voltage (f¾ and simultaneously recording the drain current (/<¾) when the device was exposed to different concentrations of target ion solutions. All the sensing data was repeated by 3-4 sensors, and their similar sensing responses further confirmed sensor repeatability. A Hitachi S4800 field-emission scanning electron microscope (SEM) was used to characterize the morphology of rGO sheets at a 2 kV acceleration voltage.

[0083] Results. FIG. 6A shows the SEM image of a single rGO sheet spanning across a pair of Au interdigitated electrodes. After the Au NP assembly, Au NPs were seen uniformly distributing on the surface of the rGO sheet without agglomeration (FIG. 6B). The van der Waals binding between Au NPs and rGO is strong enough to retain Au NPs in place even after several cycles of washing and drying.

[0084] TGA (HS-CH-COOH) has both a thiol (-C-SH) group and a carboxylic acid (-COOH) group. The thiol group in TGA interacts with the surface of Au NPs, facilitating anchoring TGA on Au NPs. On the other hand, the carboxylic acid in TGA acts as a linker to immobilize the Hg2+ ion because they can react to form R-COO-(Hg2+)-OOC-R chelates. Because of the strong bonding between gold and the thiol group, a self-assembled monolayer of TGA was formed on the gold surface, which was confirmed by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and contact angle measurement.

[0085] The drain current (Ids) of the rGO/TGA-AuNP hybrid sensor as a function of the drain voltage (f¾ or the gate voltage (Vg) was measured as the sensor was exposed to water and 10"5 M Hg2+ ion solution, as shown inFIG. 7A and 7B. The drain current increase for the rGO/TGA-AuNP hybrid sensor after exposure to Hg2+ ion solution is due to the formation of R-COO-(Hg2+)-OOC-R chelates through reactions between Hg2+ ions and the carboxylic acid groups of the TGA molecules on the Au NPs. The coupling of Hg2+ ions with carboxylic acid groups can cause changes in the charge carrier concentration in rGO sheets. To counteract the accumulation of positive charges from Hg2+ ions, electrons may transfer from the rGO to the Au NPs, increasing the hole concentration in the rGO and thereby increasing the drain current. Therefore, compared with water, exposure to Hg2+ ion solution increased the conductance of the rGO/TGA-AuNP hybrid sensor. As shown in FIG. 7B, the Dirac point of the rGO/TGA-AuNP hybrid sensor shifted ~+10 V because of the immobilization of the Hg2+ ions.

[0086] The gating effect was also reported as the possible sensing mechanism for positively charged antigen binding event because the accumulation of positively charged target analyte can act as positive potential gating and further reduce the electrical conductivity of the rGO. Based on the transport characteristic of the rGO/TGA-AuNP hybrid sensor, the transport through the rGO sheets is mainly dominated by positive charge carriers (holes) at floating gate (Vgs = 0 V) condition. However, the electrical conductivity of rGO increased with the increase of the Hg2+ ion concentration, showing the gating effect was negligible for our sensor platform. Further studies are required for additional understanding of the sensing mechanisms.

[0087] FIG. 8 shows the dynamic response of an rGO/TGA-AuNP hybrid sensor with Hg2+ ion concentrations ranging from 2.5 x 10~8 to 1.42 x 10~5 M. The drain current versus time was monitored and then sensitivity (defined as the source-drain current change ratio, or the ratio the sensor conductance in Hg2+ solution to that in DI water) was obtained for different target Hg2+ ion concentrations. There was no noticeable change observed upon the addition of DI water, implying the specificity and stability of the device. The sensor showed a rapid response when solutions with varying Hg2+ concentrations were introduced to the device surface. The sensor responded within a few seconds for the Hg2+ ions to diffuse through the liquid drop on the top of the device, in marked contrast to minutes or even hours required for conventional fluorescence sensors. The binding sites on the Au NPs were not fully occupied by Hg2+ ions within a single testing and the sensitivity kept increasing with the addition of higher concentration Hg2+ ions.

[0088] Three control experiments were performed to reveal the roles played by Au NPs and TGA probes in the hybrid sensing platform. The first control experiment was conducted using a bare rGO device without any Au NPs or TGA-functionalized Au NPs. The bare rGO device was insensitive to Hg2+ ions. In the second control experiment, an rGO device was fabricatedwith the assembly of Au NPs, but without the TGA functionalization process. The rGO/AuNPs hybrid device was not responsive to the Hg2+ ions either, implying that there was no obvious improvement in sensor sensitivity after the assembly of Au NPs. A third rGO device, which was processed with TGA modification but without the assembly of Au NPs, showed no sensitivity to the Hg2+ ions. Without wishing to be bound by theory, this could be due to the lack of strong adhesion between TGA and rGO, which could lead to the removal of TGA from the rGO surface after washing with DI water. Therefore, these three control experiments suggest that the combination Au NPs and TGA modification of Au NPs is critical for rGO-based sensors to achieve good Hg2+ sensing performance as shown in FIG. 8.

[0089] To demonstrate the specificity of the rGO/TGA-AuNP hybrid sensor,its sensing behavior was inspected when it was exposed to solutions containing interference species such as Na+ and Ca2+ ions. As the chelating effect of thiolate compound favors heavy metal ions such as Hg2+, the interference of Na+ and Ca2+ ions was weak. The rGO/TGA-AuNP hybrid sensor indeed gave no obvious response upon the addition of Na+ and Ca2+ ions, as clearly shown in FIG. 9.

[0090] To further confirm the sensor's specificity, a variety of other common heavy metal ions including Zn2+, Cd2+, and Fe3+, have been investigated in FIG. 10. The Zn2+ and Cd2+ resulted in a very week response. But, for Fe3+, the devices demonstrated a comparable sensitivity with Hg2+, which maybe was attributed to the high affinity with carboxylic acid groups and more net positive charges of Fe3+. The sensitivity limit of detection of Fe3+ was about 5μΜ, which was much lower than that of Hg2+. For investigating selectivity with ions that are chemically more similar to Hg2+, Cu2+ and Pb2+ have been examined (FIG. 11 and FIG. 12), which showed similar response with Fe3+.

Example 4. Detection of Hg(II).

[0091] Materials. GO was ordered from ACS MATERIAL, which was synthesized by using the modified Hummer's method.28 2-aminoethanethiol (AET) was purchased from Sigma-Aldrich. All solutions were prepared with deionized (DI) water (Cellgro). DNA (5'-SH-TCA TGT TTG TTT GTT GGC CCCCCT TCT TTC TTA-3 ') was purchased from Integrated DNA Technologies (IDT). PBS (pH 7.4, * 1) (Fisher BioReagents) was used as the solvent for DNA.

[0092] Device formation. rGO FETs were fabricated by self-assembly of GO sheets on the AET-modified Au interdigitated electrodes with both finger-width and inter- finger spacing (source and drain separation) of about 2 μιη and a thickness of 50 nm. The deposition process of GO sheets on the electrodes by the self-assembly method was performed as described in Example 1. The GO-deposited device was next annealed in an argon flow (1 liter per minute) for 1 h at 400 °C to reduce oxygen-containing groups in order to improve the semiconducting property.

[0093] AI2O3 passivation layers were deposited on the electrode by atomic layer deposition (ALD). Trimethylaluminum (TMA) and water were the two precursors for the binary reaction at 200 °C using 10 s diffusion time and 10 s interval between the two pulses. The thickness of the AI2O3 layer was controlled precisely by the deposition cycles with a deposition rate of 0.12 nm/cycle. Isolated Au nanoparticles (NPs) as scaffolds for immobilizing special probes were deposited on the AI2O3 using an RF (60 Hz) Emitech K550x Sputter coater apparatus with an Au target (99.999% purity) at an Ar pressure of 0.03 mbar.

[0094] Immobilization. A 10 aliquot of a 100 μΜ DNA (5'-SH-TCA TGT TTG TTT GTT GGC CCCCCT TCT TTC TTA-3 ') solution in x l PBS was injected onto Au NP-coated devices on top of the sensing area and the devices were incubated at room temperature for 90 min. Following DNA incubation, the devices were briefly rinsed with deionized water (DI).

Subsequently, the devices were exposed to solutions (Solvent: DI water) of each metal ion with different concentrations, as well as mixtures.

[0095] Characterization. Electrical measurements were performed on rGO sensors using a Keithley 4200 semiconductor characterization system at room temperature. The sensing signal of the device was recorded by monitoring the conductivity change for a given source-drain voltage (VSD) when the device was exposed to different concentrations of target materials. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was performed on a Hitachi S-4800. Raman spectroscopy was carried out by using a Renishaw 1000B Raman microscope with a 632.8 nm HeNe laser with 3 accumulations of 10 seconds each.

[0096] Results. To investigate the electrical properties of rGO/A^CVAu NP FET devices, outputs (drain-source voltage (VDS) =0.1 V and gate-source voltage (VGS) from -40V to 40 V) applied into back-gated FET devices under ambient conditions at room temperature. FIG. 13 shows the typical IDS-VQ characteristics of a bare rGO FET device. While the gate bias was increased from -40 to +40 V, the current of the device decreased from 297 to 94 nA, which indicates that the rGO sheets are p-type semiconducting materials as shown in FIG. 13 A. More importantly, the rGO device shows good switching performance with an on/off current ratio of 3.15. After AI2O3 coating, the electrical conductivity is increased due to the enhancement of the field-effect mobility as shown in FIG. 13B, but the current on/off ratio (3.08) is similar to that of bare rGO devices. Subsequently, the A^Os/rGO devices were coated by isolated Au NPs, whose electrical properties are similar to those of bare rGO devices as shown in FIG. 13C. Therefore, the incorporation of Au Ps does not significantly degrade the device performance with AI2O3 protection. In comparison, the electrical properties of rGO/Au NPs without AI2O3 coating were also measured (FIG. 13D), which showed a poor conductivity and a low current on/off ratio (1.29), due to a decrease in the hole mobility of rGO induced by the doping effect from Au NPs.

[0097] The sensing performance of rGO/Al203/DNA devices was investigated using a DNA-based probe for mercury ion detection, resulting in a highly selective Hg2+ sensor. The applied VDS was limited to 0.1 V in order to keep the device stability for operation under aqueous conditions. Upon introduction of Hg2+ to the rGO/Al203/DNA sensor, the Hg2+-binding aptamer undergoes a conformational change, resulting in a rearrangement through thymidine (T)-Hg2+-T coordination. During the accumulation of Hg2+ on the devices, the increased positive charges at the sensor surface induce a stronger electrical field, which ultimately results in a decrease in the drain-source current (IDS) in the p-type transistor. To investigate the sensitivity, the device was exposed to varying concentrations of Hg2+ aqueous solutions. FIG. 14A illustrates the dynamic response of devices when adding selected concentrations of Hg (10" , 10" , 10" , and 10" M). For the validation of the solution concentrations, Hg2+ concentrations were measured using an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer. FIG. 14A shows that the conductance of the devices continued to decrease markedly in response to Hg2+ with increasing concentrations. The real-time detection of Hg2+ was possible as low as 1 nM. The real-time responses from the FET type rGO-based water sensor in response to changes in the Hg2+ concentrations was a rapid readout (several seconds) and the detection limit was low. Those sensing data were repeated by more than 10 sensors and their similar sensing responses further confirmed the sensor repeatability and the relative standard deviation (RSD) of sensitivity at 1 nM has been calculated to be 17.20%/ To further characterize the rGO/A^CVDNA sensor, the sensitivity as a function of the Hg2+ concentration was investigated.. The sensitivity gradually increased from 1 nM to 1 μΜ of Hg2+ concentrations with saturation observed at about 1 μΜ.

[0098] To establish the sensor's specificity and reproducibility for Hg2+ detection in the field, the response to other potential contaminants must be minimized. The sensor was tested with a variety of other ions including common environmental contaminants, e.g., Na+, Fe3+, Ca , Pb , and Cd with the same procedure as that used for Hg . The DNA probe for highly selective sensing of Hg2+ using the formation of DNA-Hg2+ complexes has been reported while testing against a subset of these ions. The additional ions resulted in slight decreases of IDS as shown in FIG. 14B-F. This response may have resulted from the electrostatic interactions between the negatively charged DNA and the positive charged ions. Furthermore, the rGO/A^CVDNA sensor was tested for detection of proteins (E.coli antibody and avidin), which did not show any response FIG. 15.. Another control experiment was conducted using an rGO device with a 2nm-thick AI2O3 film, but without the decoration of Au NPs. The rGO/Al203 device was not responsive to the Hg2+ ions (FIG. 16). The sensor sensitivity (relative resistance change, %) as a function of the metal ion concentration (nM) shown in FIG. 14G indicates the rGO/A^CVDNA devices show a much higher sensitivity to each Hg2+ concentration than that of other metal ions.

[0099] The sensor's capability was also investigated for selective detection of Hg2+ in complex solutions. While testing with a complex sample containing multiple ionic species

(Na , Fe , Cd , Pb , and Hg , the same concentration of each metal ion with Hg in the mixture solution), the sensor showed a similar trend with the detection of Hg2+ alone, which means that sensing interference from other metal ions is negligible (FIG. 17A), as has been previously observed for the detection of Hg with carbon nanotubes. Without Hg , the devices showed a weak response to a complex sample at 1 nM, likely resulting from nonspecific binding between DNA and ions. Subsequent exposure of the devices to the complex sample lacking Hg2+ resulted in a minimal sensing signal. The response of the DNA-functionalized devices to the solution with Hg2+ is significantly higher than that to the solution without Hg2+ due to the rearrangement of the Hg2+-binding DNA sequence by Hg2+. Ultimately, the high selectivity of the sensing platform for Hg2+ demonstrates the ability for specific detection of a selective target, while the platform's capability for sensing without any other ion interference in complex solutions demonstrates its viability for specific detection in a highly complex environment. The sensors also showed good performance in real water sensing (Tap water from Milwaukee). (FIG. 18).

Example 5. Detection limit comparison with and without AI2O3 layer.

[00100] Materials: GO was ordered from ACS MATERIAL, which was synthesized by using the modified Hummer's method. 2-aminoethanethiol (AET) and glutaraldehyde (GA) were purchased from Sigma-Aldrich. Tween 20 and cold water fish gelatin were ordered from Tedpella. Anti-E. coli 0157:H7 Antibody and E. coli 0157:H7 cells were purchased from KPL, Inc. PBS (pH 7.4, x 1) (Fisher BioReagents) was used as the solvent for anti-E. coli 0157:H7 Antibody. All solutions were prepared with deionized (DI) water (Cellgro). Cell culture grade water was purchased from Mediatech, Inc

[00101] Device fabrication: The rGO FETs were fabricated by self-assembly of GO sheets on the AET-modified Au interdigitated electrodes with both finger-width and inter- finger spacing (source and drain separation) of about 2 μιη and a thickness of 50 nm. Next, the GO-deposited device was annealed in an argon flow (1 liter per minute) for 1 h at 400 °C to reduce oxygen-containing groups in order to improve the semiconducting property.

[00102] AI2O3 passivation layers were deposited on the electrode by atomic layer deposition (ALD). Trimethylaluminum (TMA) and water were the two precursors for the binary reaction at 200 °C using 10 s diffusion time and 10 s interval between the two pulses.

The thickness of the AI2O3 layer was controlled precisely by the deposition cycles, with a deposition rate of 0.12 nm/cycle, which is 2 nm.

[00103] Immobilization: The prepared device was immersed into AET (lmg/ml) solution at a concentration of 10 mM for lh. After thoroughly rinsed with DI water and dried under the stream of nitrogen gas, the modified device was treated by a 25% GA solution at 25 °C for lh. After that, the device was incubated in PBS containing anti-E. coli 0157 (10 μg/mL) antibody at 4 °C for 12 h. At last, the device was incubated with blocking buffer (0.1% tween 20) for 2 h at room temperature and then washed with the cell culture water.

[00104] Results: The devices with AI2O3 insulting layers perform better than those without the AI2O3 insulating layers. The rGO FET sensor devices with AI2O3 insulating layers have lower detection limits during the 40-day test. (FIG. 19). The rGO FET sensor devices with AI2O3 insulating layers also have higher sensitivity for each concentration. (FIG. 20).

Example 6. Use of rGO/DNA/A1203 sensor for detection of Hg2+

[00105] To investigate the sensitivity, a device according to the present invention was exposed to varying concentrations of Hg2+ aqueous solutions. The conductance of the devices continued to decrease markedly in response to Hg2+ with increasing concentrations. The realtime detection of Hg2+ was possible as low as 1 nM. The real-time response from the FET type rGO-based water sensor in response to changes in the Hg2+ concentrations was a rapid readout (several seconds) and the detection limit was low. (FIG. 22). The sensing performance of the rGO/Al203/D A sensor in tap water was comparable with that in the DI water. (FIG. 23).

Example 7. Electrical properties of rGO/A Os/Au NP FET-based sensors.

[00106] Materials: GO was ordered from ACS MATERIAL and synthesized using the modified Hummer's method (Park and Ruoff 2010), and 2-aminoethanethiol (AET) was purchased from Sigma-Aldrich. All solutions were prepared with deionized (DI) water (Cellgro).

[00107] Deposition of GO on the electrodes: The rGO FETs were fabricated by self-assembly of GO sheets on the AET-modified Au interdigitated electrodes with both finger- width and inter- finger spacing (source and drain separation) of about 2 μηι and a thickness of 50 nm. The process of depositing GO sheets on the electrodes using the self-assembly method has been reported in our previous publication (Chang et al. 2013c). Next, the GO-deposited device was annealed in an argon flow (1 liter per minute) for 1 h at 400 °C to reduce oxygen-containing groups in order to improve the semiconducting property.

[00108] AI2O3 film deposition by ALD and Au NP deposition by sputtering: AI2O3 passivation layers were deposited on the electrode by atomic layer deposition (ALD).

Trimethylaluminum (TMA) and water were the two precursors for the binary reaction at 200 °C using 10 s diffusion time and 10 s interval between the two pulses. The thickness of the AI2O3 layer was controlled precisely by the deposition cycles, with a deposition rate of 0.12 nm/cycle. Isolated Au nanoparticles (NPs) as scaffolds for immobilizing special probes were deposited on the AI2O3 using an RF (60 Hz) Emitech K550x Sputter coater apparatus with an Au target (99.999% purity) at an Ar pressure of 0.03 mbar.

[00109] Results: To investigate the electrical properties of rGO/Al203/Au NP FET devices, outputs (drain-source voltage (VDS) =0.1 V and gate-source voltage (VGS) from -40V to 40 V) were applied into back-gated FET devices under ambient conditions at room temperature. The current on/off ratio of rGO/A^CVDNA FET sensors is one of important factors, which can determine the sensor sensitivity. Through investigation of effect of the thickness of AI2O3 on electrical properties of rGO, it was found that the rGO/A^CVDNA sensor with 3 nm thick AI2O3 coating shows the best switching performance with a current on/off current ratio of 1.9. (FIG. 24)

Various features and advantages of the invention are set forth in the following