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Mass Transfer Limitations of Porous Silicon-Based Biosensors for Protein Detection

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journal contribution
posted on 21.09.2020, 08:43 by Sofia Arshavsky Graham, Evgeniy Boyko, Rachel Salama, Ester Segal
Porous silicon (PSi) thin films have been widely studied for biosensing applications, enabling label-free optical detection of numerous targets. The large surface area of these biosensors has been commonly recognized as one of the main advantages of the PSi nanostructure. However, in practice, without application of signal amplification strategies, PSi-based biosensors suffer from limited sensitivity, compared to planar counterparts. Using a theoretical model, which describes the complex mass transport phenomena and reaction kinetics in these porous nanomaterials, we reveal that the interrelated effect of bulk and hindered diffusion is the main limiting factor of PSi-based biosensors. Thus, without significantly accelerating the mass transport to and within the nanostructure, the target capture performance of these biosensors would be comparable, regardless of the nature of the capture probe–target pair. We use our model to investigate the effect of various structural and biosensor characteristics on the capture performance of such biosensors and suggest rules of thumb for their optimization.