Publications

2021
Zhao, C. ; Cheung, K. M. ; Huang, I. - W. ; Yang, H. ; Nakatsuka, N. ; Liu, W. ; Cao, Y. ; Man, T. ; Weiss, P. S. ; Monbouquette, H. G. ; et al. Implantable Aptamer–Field-Effect Transistor Neuroprobes for In Vivo Neurotransmitter Monitoring. Science Advances 2021, 7 eabj7422. Publisher's VersionAbstract
While tools for monitoring in vivo electrophysiology have been extensively developed, neurochemical recording technologies remain limited. Nevertheless, chemical communication via neurotransmitters plays central roles in brain information processing. We developed implantable aptamer–field-effect transistor (FET) neuroprobes for monitoring neurotransmitters. Neuroprobes were fabricated using high-throughput microelectromechanical system (MEMS) technologies, where 150 probes with shanks of either 150- or 50-μm widths and thicknesses were fabricated on 4-inch Si wafers. Nanoscale FETs with ultrathin (~3 to 4 nm) In2O3 semiconductor films were prepared using sol-gel processing. The In2O3 surfaces were coupled with synthetic oligonucleotide receptors (aptamers) to recognize and to detect the neurotransmitter serotonin. Aptamer-FET neuroprobes enabled femtomolar serotonin detection limits in brain tissue with minimal biofouling. Stimulated serotonin release was detected in vivo. This study opens opportunities for integrated neural activity recordings at high spatiotemporal resolution by combining these aptamer-FET sensors with other types of Si-based implantable probes to advance our understanding of brain function.
Zhao, C. ; Liu, Q. ; Cheung, K. M. ; Liu, W. ; Yang, Q. ; Xu, X. ; Man, T. ; Weiss, P. S. ; Zhou, C. ; Andrews, A. M. Narrower Nanoribbon Biosensors Fabricated by Chemical Lift-off Lithography Show Higher Sensitivity. ACS Nano 2021, 15, 904-915. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Wafer-scale nanoribbon field-effect transistor (FET) biosensors fabricated by straightforward top-down processes are demonstrated as sensing platforms with high sensitivity to a broad range of biological targets. Nanoribbons with 350 nm widths (700 nm pitch) were patterned by chemical lift-off lithography using high-throughput, low-cost commercial digital versatile disks (DVDs) as masters. Lift-off lithography was also used to pattern ribbons with 2 μm or 20 μm widths (4 or 40 μm pitches, respectively) using masters fabricated by photolithography. For all widths, highly aligned, quasi-one-dimensional (1D) ribbon arrays were produced over centimeter length scales by sputtering to deposit 20 nm thin-film In2O3 as the semiconductor. Compared to 20 μm wide microribbons, FET sensors with 350 nm wide nanoribbons showed higher sensitivity to pH over a broad range (pH 5 to 10). Nanoribbon FETs functionalized with a serotonin-specific aptamer demonstrated larger responses to equimolar serotonin in high ionic strength buffer than those of microribbon FETs. Field-effect transistors with 350 nm wide nanoribbons functionalized with single-stranded DNA showed greater sensitivity to detecting complementary DNA hybridization vs 20 μm microribbon FETs. In all, we illustrate facile fabrication and use of large-area, uniform In2O3 nanoribbon FETs for ion, small-molecule, and oligonucleotide detection where higher surface-to-volume ratios translate to better detection sensitivities.

2020
Cheung, K. M. ; Abendroth, J. M. ; Nakatsuka, N. ; Zhu, B. ; Yang, Y. ; Andrews, A. M. ; Weiss, P. S. Detecting DNA and RNA and Differentiating Single-Nucleotide Variations via Field-Effect Transistors. Nano Letters 2020, 20, 5982-5990. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We detect short oligonucleotides and distinguish between sequences that differ by a single base, using label-free, electronic field-effect transistors (FETs). Our sensing platform utilizes ultrathin-film indium oxide FETs chemically functionalized with single-stranded DNA (ssDNA). The ssDNA-functionalized semiconducting channels in FETs detect fully complementary DNA sequences and differentiate these sequences from those having different types and locations of single base-pair mismatches. Changes in charge associated with surface-bound ssDNA vs double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) alter FET channel conductance to enable detection due to differences in DNA duplex stability. We illustrate the capability of ssDNA-FETs to detect complementary RNA sequences and to distinguish from RNA sequences with single nucleotide variations. The development and implementation of electronic biosensors that rapidly and sensitively detect and differentiate oligonucleotides present new opportunities in the fields of disease diagnostics and precision medicine.

 

Belling, J. N. ; Cheung, K. M. ; Jackman, J. A. ; Sut, T. N. ; Allen, M. ; Park, J. H. ; Jonas, S. J. ; Cho, N. - J. ; Weiss, P. S. Lipid Bicelle Micropatterning Using Chemical Lift-Off Lithography. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 2020, 12, 13447-13455. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Supported lipid membranes are versatile biomimetic coatings for the chemical functionalization of inorganic surfaces. Developing simple and effective fabrication strategies to form supported lipid membranes with micropatterned geometries is a long-standing challenge. Herein, we demonstrate how the combination of chemical lift-off lithography (CLL) and easily prepared lipid bicelle nanostructures can yield micropatterned, supported lipid membranes on gold surfaces with high pattern resolution, conformal character, and biofunctionality. Using CLL, we functionalized gold surfaces with patterned arrays of hydrophilic and hydrophobic self-assembled monolayers (SAMs). Time-lapse fluorescence microscopy imaging revealed that lipid bicelles adsorbed preferentially onto the hydrophilic SAM regions, while there was negligible lipid adsorption onto the hydrophobic SAM regions. Functional receptors could be embedded within the lipid bicelles, which facilitated selective detection of receptor–ligand binding interactions in a model streptavidin–biotin system. Quartz crystal microbalance-dissipation measurements further identified that lipid bicelles adsorb irreversibly and remain intact on top of the hydrophilic SAM regions. Taken together, our findings indicate that lipid bicelles are useful lipid nanostructures for reproducibly assembling micropatterned, supported lipid membranes with precise pattern fidelity.

Stemer, D. M. ; Abendroth, J. M. ; Cheung, K. M. ; Ye, M. ; Hadri, M. S. E. ; Fullerton, E. E. ; Weiss, P. S. Differential Charging in Photoemission from Mercurated DNA Monolayers on Ferromagnetic Films. Nano Letters 2020, 20, 1218-1225. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Spin-dependent and enantioselective electron–molecule scattering occurs in photoelectron transmission through chiral molecular films. This spin selectivity leads to electron spin filtering by molecular helices, with increasing magnitude concomitant with increasing numbers of helical turns. Using ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy, we measured spin-selective surface charging accompanying photoemission from ferromagnetic substrates functionalized with monolayers of mercurated DNA hairpins that constitute only one helical turn. Mercury ions bind specifically at thymine–thymine mismatches within self-hybridized single-stranded DNA, enabling precise control over the number and position of Hg2+ along the helical axis. Differential charging of the organic layers, manifested as substrate-magnetization-dependent photoionization energies, was observed for DNA hairpins containing Hg2+; no differences were measured for hairpin monolayers in the absence of Hg2+. Inversion of the DNA helical secondary structure at increased metal loading led to complementary inversion in spin selectivity. We attribute these results to increased scattering probabilities from relativistic enhancement of spin–orbit interactions in mercurated DNA.

Cheung, K. M. ; Stemer, D. M. ; Zhao, C. ; Young, T. D. ; Belling, J. N. ; Andrews, A. M. ; Weiss, P. S. Chemical Lift-Off Lithography of Metal and Semiconductor Surfaces. ACS Materials Letters 2020, 2 76-83. Publisher's VersionAbstract

 

Chemical lift-off lithography (CLL) is a subtractive soft-lithographic technique that uses polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) stamps to pattern self-assembled monolayers of functional molecules for applications ranging from biomolecule patterning to transistor fabrication. A hallmark of CLL is preferential cleavage of Au–Au bonds, as opposed to bonds connecting the molecular layer to the substrate, i.e., Au–S bonds. Herein, we show that CLL can be used more broadly as a technique to pattern a variety of substrates composed of coinage metals (Pt, Pd, Ag, Cu), transition and reactive metals (Ni, Ti, Al), and a semiconductor (Ge) using straightforward alkanethiolate self-assembly chemistry. We demonstrate high-fidelity patterning in terms of precise features over large areas on all surfaces investigated. We use patterned monolayers as chemical resists for wet etching to generate metal microstructures. Substrate atoms, along with alkanethiolates, were removed as a result of lift-off, as previously observed for Au. We demonstrate the formation of PDMS-stamp-supported bimetallic monolayers by performing CLL on two different metal surfaces using the same PDMS stamp. By expanding the scope of the surfaces compatible with CLL, we advance and generalize CLL as a method to pattern a wide range of substrates, as well as to produce supported metal monolayers, both with broad applications in surface and materials science.

2019
Phenylalanine Monitoring via Aptamer-Field-Effect Transistor Sensors
Cheung, K. M. ; Yang, K. - A. ; Nakatsuka, N. ; Zhao, C. ; Ye, M. ; Jung, M. E. ; Yang, H. ; Weiss, P. S. ; Stojanović, M. N. ; Andrews, A. M. Phenylalanine Monitoring via Aptamer-Field-Effect Transistor Sensors. ACS Sensors 2019, 4 3308-3317. Publisher's VersionAbstract

 

Determination of the amino acid phenylalanine is important for lifelong disease management in patients with phenylketonuria, a genetic disorder in which phenylalanine accumulates and persists at levels that alter brain development and cause permanent neurological damage and cognitive dysfunction. Recent approaches for treating phenylketonuria focus on injectable medications that efficiently break down phenylalanine but sometimes result in detrimentally low phenylalanine levels. We have identified new DNA aptamers for phenylalanine in two formats, initially as fluorescent sensors and then, incorporated with field-effect transistors (FETs). Aptamer-FET sensors detected phenylalanine over a wide range of concentrations (fM to mM). para-Chlorophenylalanine, which inhibits the enzyme that converts phenylalanine to tyrosine, was used to induce hyperphenylalaninemia during brain development in mice. Aptamer-FET sensors were specific for phenylalanine versus para-chlorophenylalanine and differentiated changes in mouse serum phenylalanine at levels expected in patients. Aptamer-FETs can be used to investigate models of hyperphenylalanemia in the presence of structurally related enzyme inhibitors, as well as naturally occurring amino acids. Nucleic acid-based receptors that discriminate phenylalanine analogs, some that differ by a single substituent, indicate a refined ability to identify aptamers with binding pockets tailored for high affinity and specificity. Aptamers of this type integrated into FETs enable rapid, electronic, label-free phenylalanine sensing.

Lau, J. ; Trojniak, A. E. ; Maraugha, M. J. ; VanZanten, A. J. ; Osterbaan, A. J. ; Serino, A. C. ; Ohnsorg, M. L. ; Cheung, K. M. ; Ashby, D. S. ; Weiss, P. S. ; et al. Conformal Ultrathin Film Metal–Organic Framework Analogues: Characterization of Growth, Porosity, and Electronic Transport. Chemistry of Materials 2019, 31, 8977-8986. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Thin-film formation and transport properties of two copper-paddlewheel metal–organic framework (MOF)-based systems (MOF-14 and MOF-399) are investigated for their potential integration into electrochemical device architectures. Thin-film analogues of these two systems are fabricated by the sequential, alternating, solution-phase deposition of the inorganic and organic ligand precursors that result in conformal films via van der Merwe-like growth. Atomic force microscopy reveals smooth film morphologies with surface roughnesses determined by the underlying substrates and linear film growth of 1.4 and 2.2 nm per layer for the MOF-14 and MOF-399 systems, respectively. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy is used to evaluate the electronic transport properties of the thin films, finding that the MOF-14 analogue films demonstrate low electronic conductivity, while MOF-399 analogue films are electronically insulating. The intrinsic porosities of these ultrathin MOF analogue films are confirmed by cyclic voltammetry redox probe characterization using ferrocene. Larger peak currents are observed for MOF-399 analogue films compared to MOF-14 analogue films, which is consistent with the larger pores of MOF-399. The layer-by-layer deposition of these systems provides a promising route to incorporate MOFs as thin films with nanoscale thickness control and low surface roughness for electrochemical devices.

Thin-film formation and transport properties of two copper-paddlewheel metal–organic framework (MOF)-based systems (MOF-14 and MOF-399) are investigated for their potential integration into electrochemical device architectures. Thin-film analogues of these two systems are fabricated by the sequential, alternating, solution-phase deposition of the inorganic and organic ligand precursors that result in conformal films via van der Merwe-like growth. Atomic force microscopy reveals smooth film morphologies with surface roughnesses determined by the underlying substrates and linear film growth of 1.4 and 2.2 nm per layer for the MOF-14 and MOF-399 systems, respectively. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy is used to evaluate the electronic transport properties of the thin films, finding that the MOF-14 analogue films demonstrate low electronic conductivity, while MOF-399 analogue films are electronically insulating. The intrinsic porosities of these ultrathin MOF analogue films are confirmed by cyclic voltammetry redox probe characterization using ferrocene. Larger peak currents are observed for MOF-399 analogue films compared to MOF-14 analogue films, which is consistent with the larger pores of MOF-399. The layer-by-layer deposition of these systems provides a promising route to incorporate MOFs as thin films with nanoscale thickness control and low surface roughness for electrochemical devices.

Abendroth, J. M. ; Cheung, K. M. ; Stemer, D. M. ; Hadri, M. S. E. ; Zhao, C. ; Fullerton, E. E. ; Weiss, P. S. Spin-Dependent Ionization of Chiral Molecular Films. Journal of the American Chemical Society 2019, 141, 3863-3874. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Spin selectivity in photo-emission from ferromagnetic substrates functionalized with chiral organic films was analyzed by ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy at room temperature. Using radiation with photon energy greater than the ionization potential of the adsorbed molecules, photoelectrons were collected that originated from both underlying ferromagnetic substrates and the organic films, with kinetic energies in the range of ca. 0–18 eV. We investigated chiral organic films composed of self-assembled monolayers of α-helical peptides and electrostatically adsorbed films of the protein, bovine serum albumin, with different α-helix and β-sheet contents. Ultraviolet photoelectron spectral widths were found to depend on substrate magnetization orientation and polarization, which we attribute to helicity-dependent molecular ionization cross sections arising from photoelectron impact, possibly resulting in spin-polarized holes. These interactions between spin-polarized photoelectrons and chiral molecules are physically manifested as differences in the measured photoionization energies of the chiral molecular films. Substrate magnetization-dependent ionization energies and work function values were deconvoluted using surface charge neutralization techniques, permitting the measurement of relative spin-dependent energy barriers to transmission through chiral organic films.

2018
Nakatsuka, N. ; Yang, K. - A. ; Abendroth, J. M. ; Cheung, K. M. ; Xu, X. ; Yang, H. ; Zhao, C. ; Zhu, B. ; Rim, Y. S. ; Yang, Y. ; et al. Aptamer–Field-Effect Transistors Overcome Debye Length Limitations for Small-Molecule Sensing. Science 2018, 362, 319-324. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Detection of analytes by means of field-effect transistors bearing ligand-specific receptors is fundamentally limited by the shielding created by the electrical double layer (the “Debye length” limitation). We detected small molecules under physiological high–ionic strength conditions by modifying printed ultrathin metal-oxide field-effect transistor arrays with deoxyribonucleotide aptamers selected to bind their targets adaptively. Target-induced conformational changes of negatively charged aptamer phosphodiester backbones in close proximity to semiconductor channels gated conductance in physiological buffers, resulting in highly sensitive detection. Sensing of charged and electroneutral targets (serotonin, dopamine, glucose, and sphingosine-1-phosphate) was enabled by specifically isolated aptameric stem-loop receptors.
Zhao, C. ; Xu, X. ; Bae, S. - H. ; Yang, Q. ; Liu, W. ; Belling, J. N. ; Cheung, K. M. ; Rim, Y. S. ; Yang, Y. ; Andrews, A. M. ; et al. Large-Area, Ultrathin Metal-Oxide Semiconductor Nanoribbon Arrays Fabricated by Chemical Lift-Off Lithography . Nano Letters 2018, 18, 5590-5595. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Nanoribbon- and nanowire-based field-effect transistors (FETs) have attracted significant attention due to their high surface-to-volume ratios, which make them effective as chemical and biological sensors. However, the conventional nanofabrication of these devices is challenging and costly, posing a major barrier to widespread use. We report a high-throughput approach for producing arrays of ultrathin (∼3 nm) In2O3 nanoribbon FETs at the wafer scale. Uniform films of semiconducting In2O3 were prepared on Si/SiO2 surfaces via a sol–gel process prior to depositing Au/Ti metal layers. Commercially available high-definition digital versatile discs were employed as low-cost, large-area templates to prepare polymeric stamps for chemical lift-off lithography, which selectively removed molecules from self-assembled monolayers functionalizing the outermost Au surfaces. Nanoscale chemical patterns, consisting of one-dimensional lines (200 nm wide and 400 nm pitch) extending over centimeter length scales, were etched into the metal layers using the remaining monolayer regions as resists. Subsequent etch processes transferred the patterns into the underlying In2O3 films before the removal of the protective organic and metal coatings, revealing large-area nanoribbon arrays. We employed nanoribbons in semiconducting FET channels, achieving current on-to-off ratios over 107 and carrier mobilities up to 13.7 cm2 V–1 s–1. Nanofabricated structures, such as In2O3 nanoribbons and others, will be useful in nanoelectronics and biosensors. The technique demonstrated here will enable these applications and expand low-cost, large-area patterning strategies to enable a variety of materials and design geometries in nanoelectronics.

Nakatsuka, N. ; Hasani-Sadrabadi, M. M. ; Cheung, K. M. ; Young, T. D. ; Bahlakeh, G. ; Moshaverinia, A. ; Weiss, P. S. ; Andrews, A. M. Polyserotonin Nanoparticles as Multifunctional Materials for Biomedical Applications. ACS Nano 2018, 12, 4761-4774. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Serotonin-based nanoparticles represent a class of previously unexplored multifunctional nanoplatforms with potential biomedical applications. Serotonin, under basic conditions, self-assembles into monodisperse nanoparticles via autoxidation of serotonin monomers. To demonstrate potential applications of polyserotonin nanoparticles for cancer therapeutics, we show that these particles are biocompatible, exhibit photothermal effects when exposed to near-infrared radiation, and load the chemotherapeutic drug doxorubicin, releasing it contextually and responsively in specific microenvironments. Quantum mechanical and molecular dynamics simulations were performed to interrogate the interactions between surface-adsorbed drug molecules and polyserotonin nanoparticles. To investigate the potential of polyserotonin nanoparticles for in vivo targeting, we explored their nano–bio interfaces by conducting protein corona experiments. Polyserotonin nanoparticles had reduced surface–protein interactions under biological conditions compared to polydopamine nanoparticles, a similar polymer material widely investigated for related applications. These findings suggest that serotonin-based nanoparticles have advantages as drug-delivery platforms for synergistic chemo- and photothermal therapy associated with limited nonspecific interactions.

2017
Slaughter, L. S. ; Cheung, K. M. ; Kaappa, S. ; Cao, H. H. ; Yang, Q. ; Young, T. D. ; Serino, A. C. ; Malola, S. ; Olson, J. M. ; Link, S. ; et al. Patterning of Supported Gold Monolayers via Chemical Lift-Off Lithography. Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology 2017, 8 2648-2661. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The supported monolayer of Au that accompanies alkanethiolate molecules removed by polymer stamps during chemical lift-off lithography is a scarcely studied hybrid material. We show that these Au–alkanethiolate layers on poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) are transparent, functional, hybrid interfaces that can be patterned over nanometer, micrometer, and millimeter length scales. Unlike other ultrathin Au films and nanoparticles, lifted-off Au–alkanethiolate thin films lack a measurable optical signature. We therefore devised fabrication, characterization, and simulation strategies by which to interrogate the nanoscale structure, chemical functionality, stoichiometry, and spectral signature of the supported Au–thiolate layers. The patterning of these layers laterally encodes their functionality, as demonstrated by a fluorescence-based approach that relies on dye-labeled complementary DNA hybridization. Supported thin Au films can be patterned via features on PDMS stamps (controlled contact), using patterned Au substrates prior to lift-off (e.g., selective wet etching), or by patterning alkanethiols on Au substrates to be reactive in selected regions but not others (controlled reactivity). In all cases, the regions containing Au–alkanethiolate layers have a sub-nanometer apparent height, which was found to be consistent with molecular dynamics simulations that predicted the removal of no more than 1.5 Au atoms per thiol, thus presenting a monolayer-like structure.

Xu, X. ; Yang, Q. ; Cheung, K. M. ; Zhao, C. ; Wattanatorn, N. ; Belling, J. N. ; Abendroth, J. M. ; Slaughter, L. S. ; Mirkin, C. A. ; Andrews, A. M. ; et al. Polymer-Pen Chemical Lift-Off Lithography. Nano Letters 2017, 17, 3302-3311. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We designed and fabricated large arrays of polymer pens having sub-20 nm tips to perform chemical lift-off lithography (CLL). As such, we developed a hybrid patterning strategy called polymer-pen chemical lift-off lithography (PPCLL). We demonstrated PPCLL patterning using pyramidal and v-shaped polymer-pen arrays. Associated simulations revealed a nanometer-scale quadratic relationship between contact line widths of the polymer pens and two other variables: polymer-pen base line widths and vertical compression distances. We devised a stamp support system consisting of interspersed arrays of flat-tipped polymer pens that are taller than all other sharp-tipped polymer pens. These supports partially or fully offset stamp weights thereby also serving as a leveling system. We investigated a series of v-shaped polymer pens with known height differences to control relative vertical positions of each polymer pen precisely at the sub-20 nm scale mimicking a high-precision scanning stage. In doing so, we obtained linear-array patterns of alkanethiols with sub-50 nm to sub-500 nm line widths and minimum sub-20 nm line width tunable increments. The CLL pattern line widths were in agreement with those predicted by simulations. Our results suggest that through informed design of a stamp support system and tuning of polymer-pen base widths, throughput can be increased by eliminating the need for a scanning stage system in PPCLL without sacrificing precision. To demonstrate functional microarrays patterned by PPCLL, we inserted probe DNA into PPCLL patterns and observed hybridization by complementary target sequences.