Towards nanometer-spaced silicon contacts to proteins

Muhammed I. Schukfeh, Lior Sepunaru, Pascal Behr, Wenjie Li, Israel Pecht, Mordechai Sheves, David Cahen, Marc Tornow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


A vertical nanogap device (VND) structure comprising all-silicon contacts as electrodes for the investigation of electronic transport processes in bioelectronic systems is reported. Devices were fabricated from silicon-on-insulator substrates whose buried oxide (SiO2) layer of a few nanometers in thickness is embedded within two highly doped single crystalline silicon layers. Individual VNDs were fabricated by standard photolithography and a combination of anisotropic and selective wet etching techniques, resulting in p+ silicon contacts, vertically separated by 4 or 8 nm, depending on the chosen buried oxide thickness. The buried oxide was selectively recess-etched with buffered hydrofluoric acid, exposing a nanogap. For verification of the devices' electrical functionality, gold nanoparticles were successfully trapped onto the nanogap electrodes' edges using AC dielectrophoresis. Subsequently, the suitability of the VND structures for transport measurements on proteins was investigated by functionalizing the devices with cytochrome c protein from solution, thereby providing non-destructive, permanent semiconducting contacts to the proteins. Current-voltage measurements performed after protein deposition exhibited an increase in the junctions' conductance of up to several orders of magnitude relative to that measured prior to cytochrome c immobilization. This increase in conductance was lost upon heating the functionalized device to above the protein's denaturation temperature (80 °C). Thus, the VND junctions allow conductance measurements which reflect the averaged electronic transport through a large number of protein molecules, contacted in parallel with permanent contacts and, for the first time, in a symmetrical Si-protein-Si configuration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115302
Issue number11
StatePublished - 18 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 IOP Publishing Ltd.


  • cytochrome c
  • electron transport
  • molecular electronics
  • nanogap
  • protein


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