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Outside looking in: nanotube transistor intracellular sensors.
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Nanowire-based field-effect transistors, including devices with planar and three-dimensional configurations, are being actively explored as detectors for extra- and intracellular recording due to their small size and high sensitivities. Here we report the synthesis, fabrication, and characterization of a new needle-shaped nanoprobe based on an active silicon nanotube transistor, ANTT, that enables high-resolution intracellular recording. In the ANTT probe, the source/drain contacts to the silicon nanotube are fabricated on one end, passivated from external solution, and then time-dependent changes in potential can be recorded from the opposite nanotube end via the solution filling the tube. Measurements of conductance versus water-gate potential in aqueous solution show that the ANTT probe is selectively gated by potential changes within the nanotube, thus demonstrating the basic operating principle of the ANTT device. Studies interfacing the ANTT probe with spontaneously beating cardiomyocytes yielded stable intracellular action potentials similar to those reported by other electrophysiological techniques. In addition, the straightforward fabrication of ANTT devices was exploited to prepare multiple ANTT structures at the end of single probes, which enabled multiplexed recording of intracellular action potentials from single cells and multiplexed arrays of single ANTT device probes. These studies open up unique opportunities for multisite recordings from individual cells through cellular networks.