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Prospects of Graphene–hBN Heterostructure Nanogap for DNA Sequencing

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journal contribution
posted on 03.11.2017, 00:00 by Vivekanand Shukla, Naresh K. Jena, Anton Grigoriev, Rajeev Ahuja
Recent advances in solid-state nano-device-based DNA sequencing are at the helm of the development of a new paradigm, commonly referred to as personalized medicines. Paying heed to a timely need for standardizing robust nanodevices for cheap, fast, and scalable DNA detection, in this article, the nanogap formed by the lateral heterostructure of graphene and hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) is explored as a potential architecture. These heterostructures have been realized experimentally, and our study boasts the idea that the passivation of the edge of the graphene electrode with hBN will solve many of practical problems, such as high reactivity of the graphene edge and difficulty in controlled engineering of the graphene edge structure, while retaining the nanogap setup as a useful nanodevice for sensing applications. Employing first-principle density-functional-theory-based nonequilibrium Green’s function methods, we identify that the DNA building blocks, nucleobases, uniquely couple with the states of the nanogap, and the resulting induced states can be attributed as leaving a fingerprint of the DNA sequence in the computed current–voltage (IV) characteristic. Two bias windows are put forward: lower (1–1.2 V) and higher (2.7–3 V), where unique identification of all four bases is possible from the current traces, although higher sensitivity is obtained at the higher voltage window. Our study can be a practical guide for experimentalists toward development of a nanodevice DNA sensor based on graphene–hBN heterostructures.