Differentiation of complex vapor mixtures using versatile DNA-carbon nanotube chemical sensor arrays

ACS Nano. 2013 Mar 26;7(3):2800-7. doi: 10.1021/nn400359c. Epub 2013 Mar 5.


Vapor sensors based on functionalized carbon nanotubes (NTs) have shown great promise, with high sensitivity conferred by the reduced dimensionality and exceptional electronic properties of the NT. Critical challenges in the development of NT-based sensor arrays for chemical detection include the demonstration of reproducible fabrication methods and functionalization schemes that provide high chemical diversity to the resulting sensors. Here, we outline a scalable approach to fabricating arrays of vapor sensors consisting of NT field effect transistors functionalized with single-stranded DNA (DNA-NT). DNA-NT sensors were highly reproducible, with responses that could be described through equilibrium thermodynamics. Target analytes were detected even in large backgrounds of volatile interferents. DNA-NT sensors were able to discriminate between highly similar molecules, including structural isomers and enantiomers. The sensors were also able to detect subtle variations in complex vapors, including mixtures of structural isomers and mixtures of many volatile organic compounds characteristic of humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biosensing Techniques*
  • Cyclohexenes / analysis
  • Cyclohexenes / chemistry
  • DNA, Single-Stranded* / chemistry
  • Hemiterpenes
  • Humans
  • Limonene
  • Nanotechnology
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / chemistry*
  • Pentanoic Acids / analysis
  • Static Electricity
  • Stereoisomerism
  • Terpenes / analysis
  • Terpenes / chemistry
  • Thermodynamics
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / analysis*
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / chemistry


  • Cyclohexenes
  • DNA, Single-Stranded
  • Hemiterpenes
  • Nanotubes, Carbon
  • Pentanoic Acids
  • Terpenes
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • isovaleric acid
  • Limonene