Designing Electrochemical Biosensing Platforms Using Layered Carbon-Stabilized Porous Silicon Nanostructures

Keying Guo, Maria Alba, Grace Pei Chin, Ziqiu Tong, Bin Guan, Michael J. Sailor, Nicolas H. Voelcker, Beatriz Prieto-Simón

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Porous silicon (pSi) is an established porous material that offers ample opportunities for biosensor design thanks to its tunable structure, versatile surface chemistry, and large surface area. Nonetheless, its potential for electrochemical sensing is relatively unexplored. This study investigates layered carbon-stabilized pSi nanostructures with site-specific functionalities as an electrochemical biosensor. A double-layer nanostructure combining a top hydrophilic layer of thermally carbonized pSi (TCpSi) and a bottom hydrophobic layer of thermally hydrocarbonized pSi (THCpSi) is prepared. The modified layers are formed in a stepwise process, involving first an electrochemical anodization step to generate a porous layer with precisely defined pore morphological features, followed by deposition of a thin thermally carbonized coating on the pore walls via temperature-controlled acetylene decomposition. The second layer is then generated beneath the first by following the same two-step process, but the acetylene decomposition conditions are adjusted to deposit a thermally hydrocarbonized coating. The double-layer platform features excellent electrochemical properties such as fast electron-transfer kinetics, which underpin the performance of a TCpSi-THCpSi voltammetric DNA sensor. The biosensor targets a 28-nucleotide single-stranded DNA sequence with a detection limit of 0.4 pM, two orders of magnitude lower than the values reported to date by any other pSi-based electrochemical DNA sensor
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalACS Applied Materials & Interfaces
StatePublished - Mar 14 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-05-16
Acknowledgements: Financial support from the Australian Research Council’s Discovery and Linkage Project Schemes (DP160104362 and LP160101050) and the US National Science Foundation (NSF) through the UC San Diego Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (UCSD MRSEC) DMR-2011924. This work was performed in part at the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication (MCN) in the Victorian Node of the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF). The authors acknowledge the use of facilities and instrumentation supported by NSF through the UC San Diego Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (UCSD MRSEC) DMR-2011924 and the San Diego Nanotechnology Infrastructure (SDNI) of UCSD, a member of the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure, which is supported by the National Science Foundation (Grant ECCS-1542148). M.A. gratefully acknowledges financial support from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia (GNT1125400). The authors thank Marc Cirera for the design of schematics ( ). N.H.V. thanks the CSIRO for a Science Leader Fellowship.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science


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