Sefi Vernick, Scott M. Trocchia, Steven B. Warren, Erik F. Young, Delphine Bouilly, Ruben L. Gonzalez, Colin Nuckolls & Kenneth L. Shepard. Electrostatic melting in a single-molecule field-effect transistor with applications in genomic identification. Nature Communications 8, Article number: 15450 (2017) | DOI: 10.1038/ncomms15450.


The study of biomolecular interactions at the single-molecule level holds great potential for both basic science and biotechnology applications. Single-molecule studies often rely on fluorescence-based reporting, with signal levels limited by photon emission from single optical reporters. The point-functionalized carbon nanotube transistor, known as the single-molecule field-effect transistor, is a bioelectronics alternative based on intrinsic molecular charge that offers significantly higher signal levels for detection. Such devices are effective for characterizing DNA hybridization kinetics and thermodynamics and enabling emerging applications in genomic identification. In this work, we show that hybridization kinetics can be directly controlled by electrostatic bias applied between the device and the surrounding electrolyte. We perform the first single-molecule experiments demonstrating the use of electrostatics to control molecular binding. Using bias as a proxy for temperature, we demonstrate the feasibility of detecting various concentrations of 20-nt target sequences from the Ebolavirus nucleoprotein gene in a constant-temperature environment