Inexpensive and fast pathogenic bacteria screening using field-effect transistors

Nello Formisano, Nikhil Bhalla, Mel Heeran, Juana Reyes Martinez, Amrita Sarkar, Maisem Laabei, Pawan Jolly, Chris R. Bowen, John T. Taylor, Sabine Flitsch, Pedro Estrela

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
165 Downloads (Pure)


While pathogenic bacteria contribute to a large number of globally important diseases and infections, current clinical diagnosis is based on processes that often involve culturing which can be time-consuming. Therefore, innovative, simple, rapid and low-cost solutions to effectively reduce the burden of bacterial infections are urgently needed. Here we demonstrate a label-free sensor for fast bacterial detection based on metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs). The electric charge of bacteria binding to the glycosylated gates of a MOSFET enables quantification in a straightforward manner. We show that the limit of quantitation is 1.9×105 CFU/mL with this simple device, which is more than 10,000-times lower than is achieved with electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) and matrix-assisted laser desorption ionisation time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-ToF) on the same modified surfaces. Moreover, the measurements are extremely fast and the sensor can be mass produced at trivial cost as a tool for initial screening of pathogens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-109
Number of pages7
JournalBiosensors and Bioelectronics
Early online date21 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 15 Nov 2016


  • Bacteria
  • BioFET
  • Biosensors
  • Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy


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