Imec, a world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies, today presented the smallest silicon finFET that functions as a biosensor. Achieving ultrasmall dimensions (13nm fin width and 50nm gate length), and fabricated with a CMOS-compatible process flow in imec’s 300mm cleanroom, imec envisions volume manufacturing and integration into high-throughput, cost-effective detection tools, with 10,000s of these ‘BioFETs’ working in parallel. With a demonstrated detection limit of tens of molecules today, imec ultimately targets highly accurate BioFETs sensing single DNA molecules.
Due to its high integration and low-cost potential, field-effect transistors (FETs) have gained a lot of interest for biosensing applications such as DNA, protein, and virus detection or pH sensing. When biomolecules bind to the chemically modified dielectric surface of the gate, its threshold voltage changes, resulting in a measurable signal. Despite continuous research progress in this field, BioFET devices have not yet delivered all their potential into successful products. Imec has explored how an advanced generation of CMOS FET devices, so called finFETs with three-dimensional short length gates can improve the sensitivity of BioFETs and open new applications. These finFETS have advantages in view of high integration and parallelization but very little was understood about their potential as a BioFET.
With its bio finFET devices with lengths down to 50 nanometers, imec has demonstrated a robust signal for DNA hybridization and the detection of tens of DNA molecules on the surface of nano-scale finFETs. Based on experiments and simulation, imec predicts single-molecule detection with a signal to noise ratio (SNR) > 5 to be possible with sub-70 nm finFETs.“By virtue of our insatiable hunger for ever faster computation and data access, the semiconductor industry has gotten to a point where we can now integrate a very large number of nanoscale devices into incredibly complex systems and this on just a few square millimetres of silicon using mass manufacturing approaches that achieve nearly atomic precision,” stated Peter Peumans, CTO Health technologies at imec. “We are leveraging these capabilities not only to build better computers or communication devices, but to enable chip-based tools for the life sciences that are game-changing in their ability to reveal details about biology that were hitherto inaccessible.”
Imec (imec-int.com) is a world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies. The combination of our widely acclaimed leadership in microchip technology and profound software and ICT expertise is what makes us unique. By leveraging our world-class infrastructure and local and global ecosystem of partners across a multitude of industries, we create groundbreaking innovation in application domains such as healthcare, smart cities and mobility, logistics and manufacturing, energy and education.
As a trusted partner for companies, start-ups and universities we bring together more than 4,000 brilliant minds from almost 100 nationalities. Imec is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium and has distributed R&D groups at a number of Flemish universities, in the Netherlands, Taiwan, USA, and offices in China, India and Japan. In 2019, imec's revenue (P&L) totaled 640 million euro.
Imec is a registered trademark for the activities of IMEC International (a legal entity set up under Belgian law as a “stichting van openbaar nut”), imec Belgium (IMEC vzw supported by the Government of Flanders), imec the Netherlands (Stichting IMEC Nederland, part of Holst Centre and OnePlanet, supported by the Dutch Government), imec Taiwan (IMEC Taiwan Co.), imec China (IMEC Microelectronics (Shanghai) Co. Ltd.), imec India (Imec India Private Limited) and imec Florida (IMEC USA nanoelectronics design center).