Detection of the anthrax toxin, the protective antigen (PA), at the attomolar (aM) level is demonstrated by an electrical aptamer sensor based on a chemically derived graphene field-effect transistor (FET) platform. Higher affinity of the aptamer probes to PA in the aptamer-immobilized FET enables significant improvements in the limit of detection (LOD), dynamic range, and sensitivity compared to the antibody-immobilized FET. Transduction signal enhancement in the aptamer FET due to an increase in captured PA molecules results in a larger 30 mV/decade shift in the charge neutrality point (Vg,min) as a sensitivity parameter, with the dynamic range of the PA concentration between 12 aM (LOD) and 120 fM. An additional signal enhancement is obtained by the secondary aptamer-conjugated gold nanoparticles (AuNPs-aptamer), which have a sandwich structure of aptamer/PA/aptamer-AuNPs, induce an increase in charge-doping in the graphene channel, resulting in a reduction of the LOD to 1.2 aM with a three-fold increase in the Vg,min shift.
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