Exosomes are highly important in clinical diagnosis due to their high homology with their parental cells. However, conventional exosome detection methods still face the challenges of expensive equipment, low sensitivity, and complex procedures. Field effect transistors (FETs) are not only the most essential electronic component in the modern microelectronics industry but also show great potential for biomolecule detection owing to the advantages of rapid response, high sensitivity, and label-free detection.
Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences have developed a Si nanowire field-effect transistor (Si-NW Bio-FET) device chemically modified with specific antibodies for the electrical and label-free detection of exosomes. The Si-NW FETs were fabricated by standard microelectronic processes with 45 nm width nanowires and packaged in a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) microfluidic channel. The nanowires were further modified with the specific CD63 antibody to form a Si-NW Bio-FET. The use of the developed Si-NW Bio-FET for the electrical and label-free detection of exosomes was successfully demonstrated with a limit of detection (LOD) of 2159 particles/mL. In contrast to other technologies, in this study, Si-NW Bio-FET provides a unique strategy for directly quantifying and real-time detecting exosomes without labeling, indicating its potential as a tool for the early diagnosis of cancer.