Micro-nano biosystems: silicon nanowire sensor and micromechanical wireless power receiver
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Silicon Nanowire-based biosensors owe their sensitivity to the large surface area to volume ratio of the nanowires. However, presently they have only been shown to detect specific bio-markers in low-salt buffer environments. The first part of this thesis presents a pertinent next step in the evolution of these sensors by presenting the specific detection of a target analyte (NT-ProBNP) in a physiologically relevant solution such as serum. By fabrication of the nanowires down to widths of 60 nm, choosing appropriate design parameters, optimization of the silicon surface functionalization recipe and using a reduced gate oxide thickness of 5 nm; these sensors are shown to detect the NT-ProBNP bio-marker down to 2ng/ml in serum. The observed high background noise in the measured response of the sensor is discussed and removed experimentally by the addition of an extra microfabrication step to employ a differential measurement scheme. It is also shown how the modulation of the local charge density via external static electric fields (applied by on-chip patterned electrodes) pushes the sensitivity threshold by more than an order of magnitude. These demonstrations bring the silicon nanowire-based biosensor platform one step closer to being realized for point-of-care (POC) applications. In the second half of the thesis, it is demonstrated how silicon micromechanical piezoelectric resonators could be tasked to provide wireless power to such POC bio-systems. At present most sensing and actuation platforms, especially in the implantable format, are powered either via onboard battery packs which are large and need periodic replacement or are powered wirelessly through magnetic induction, which requires a proximately located external charging coil. Using energy harnessed from electric fields at distances over a meter; comprehensive distance, orientation, and power dependence for these first-generation devices is presented. The distance response is non-monotonic and anomalous due to multi-path interferences, reflections and low directivity of the power receiver. This issue is studied and evaluated using COMSOL Multiphysics simulations. It is shown that the efficiency of these devices initially evaluated at 3% may be enhanced up to 15% by accessing higher frequency modes.
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