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Keywords:

  • field-effect transistors (FETs);
  • nanowires;
  • sensors;
  • microRNA;
  • ultrasensitive;
  • label-free

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have been regarded as promising biomarkers for the diagnosis and prognosis of early-stage cancer as their expression levels are associated with different types of human cancers. However, it is a challenge to produce low-cost miRNA sensors, as well as retain a high sensitivity, both of which are essential factors that must be considered in fabricating nanoscale biosensors and in future biomedical applications. To address such challenges, we develop a complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS)-compatible SiNW-FET biosensor fabricated by an anisotropic wet etching technology with self-limitation which provides a much lower manufacturing cost and an ultrahigh sensitivity. This nanosensor shows a rapid (< 1 minute) detection of miR-21 and miR-205, with a low limit of detection (LOD) of 1 zeptomole (ca. 600 copies), as well as an excellent discrimination for single-nucleotide mismatched sequences of tumor-associated miRNAs. To investigate its applicability in real settings, we have detected miRNAs in total RNA extracted from lung cancer cells as well as human serum samples using the nanosensors, which demonstrates their potential use in identifying clinical samples for early diagnosis of cancer.