Electronic systems are a very good platform for sensing biological signals for fast point-of-care diagnostics or threat detection. One of the solutions is the lab-on-a-chip integrated circuit (IC), which is low cost and high reliability, offering the possibility for label-free detection. In recent years, similar integrated biosensors based on the conventional complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology have been reported. However, post-fabrication processes are essential for all classes of CMOS biochips, requiring biocompatible electrode deposition and circuit encapsulation.
In this work, we present an amorphous silicon (a-Si) thin film transistor (TFT) array based sensing approach, which greatly simplifies the fabrication procedures and even decreases the cost of the biosensor. The device contains several identical sensor pixels with amplifiers to boost the sensitivity. Ring oscillator and logic circuits are also integrated to achieve different measurement methodologies, including electro-analytical methods such as amperometric and cyclic voltammetric modes. The system also supports different operational modes. For example, depending on the required detection arrangement, a sample droplet could be placed on the sensing pads or the device could be immersed into the sample solution for real time in-situ measurement. The entire system is designed and fabricated using a low temperature TFT process that is compatible to plastic substrates. No additional processing is required prior to biological measurement. A Cr/Au double layer is used for the biological-electronic interface. The success of the TFT-based system used in this work will open new avenues for flexible label-free or low-cost disposable biosensors.