Versatile ultra-sensitive FET sensor: Application to the detection of Cesium in natural waters – SENCEI

Submission summary

Human activities gradually lead to the degradation of the environment and cause adverse effects on human health by the release in food, water, air or soil of various pollutants or harmful molecules. Quantifying their presence and their impact on both the environment and the human health is crucial. The development of innovative analytical techniques that encompass selectivity, sensitivity, easiness-to-handle, high-throughput, integration and wearable associated to real-time monitoring capabilities has therefore unlimited applicative potential.

Our project aims at developing a versatile sensor which will allow the detection of femtomolar (pg/l) concentrations of ions/molecules in solution. The selectivity of the sensor will be easily adaptable on demand to the aimed target. The device will be integrated, self-consistent and transportable. Its use will be simple and will not require any specific qualifications or training. As a proof of concept, the sensor will be developed for the detection of Cesium in natural waters. High level radiation exposures as well as the cumulative effect of low level radiation over long periods of times are both known to be responsible for dramatic health condition of humans, aquatic plants and animals [Aarkrog2003].

Conversion and processes: Our sensor will be based on field effect transistor (FET) technology and will be constituted of organic materials only therefore allowing high throughput fabrication at low cost using parallel processes.

Electronic state control: The supporting material will be made of poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), an insulating polymer. The channel will be constituted of C8-BTBT, a semiconducting organic molecule which once organized into highly crystalline layer shows high rate charge carriers transport.

Design and synthesis/Shape and structure control: A ~2.2 nm thick monolayer of engineered lipids will constitute both the gate dielectric and the active sensing layer of the device allowing low operating voltage, and high sensitivity. Subsequent engineering of the lipid monolayer with a calixarene derivative probe will give Cs+ specificity to the sensor.

Expected novelties are: Fundamental: -Fabrication of an electrically and mechanically highly stable supported functional lipid monolayer stabilized by a two stage reticulation process. -New chelator specific to Cs+. -Grafting of lipids with calixarene probe. -Formation of highly crystalline C8-BTBT on PMMA. -Formation of lipid monolayer on C8-BTBT. Applicative: -New versatile sensor platform. -All integrated Cesium sensor with high sensitivity, selectivity, and real time measurement to quantify Cs+ in natural waters.

Consortium competences
The project is divided in tasks which each require specific competences that will be found in either French or Japanese groups. The Japanese group is expert in organic thin films, organic semiconductor device physics, and supramolecular chemistry. The French team is expert in biosensors, lipid technology, coordination chemistry and chelator synthesis, micro/nano fabrication and field effect transistors physics.

A position regarding the forecast for the next 20-30 years
This sensor has unlimited applicative potential. It will be developed according to most pertinent needs: For example the detection of molecules of interest in water, including potable water and natural waters. Multiplexed sensor platforms will be developed for the simultaneous detection of diverse molecules/ions. Connectivity, data transfer and storage is another future development of such sensor. One could envision transferring the data to a smart phone using Bluetooth for example.

Project coordination

Anne Charrier (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, CNRS DR12)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


CNRS DR12-CINaM Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, CNRS DR12

Help of the ANR 249,150 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2016 - 36 Months

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