Electronic Anabolic Steroid Recognition with Carbon Nanotube Field-Effect Transistors

A proof of concept of the electronic detection of two anabolic steroids, stanozolol (Stz) and methylboldenone (MB), was carried out using two specific antibodies and arrays of carbon nanotube field-effect transistors (CNTFETs). Antibodies specific for Stz and MB were prepared and immobilized on the carbon nanotubes (CNTs) using two different approaches: direct noncovalent bonding of antibodies to the devices and bonding the antibodies covalently to a polymer previously attached to the CNTFETs. The results indicated that CNTFETs bonded to specific antibodies covalently or noncovalently are able to detect the presence of steroids. Statistically significant changes in the threshold voltage and drain current were registered in the transistors, allowing the steroids to be recognized. On the other hand, it was determined that the specific antibodies do not detect other steroids other than Stz and MB, such as nandrolone (ND) because, in this case, statistically significant changes in the transistors were not detected. The polymer prevents the aggregation of antibodies on the electrodes and decreases the transistor hysteresis. Nevertheless, it is not able to avoid the nonspecific adsorption of streptavidin, meaning that nonspecific adsorption on CNTs remains a problem and that this methodology is only useful for purified samples. Regarding the detection mechanism, in addition to charge transfer, Schottky barrier, SB, modification, and scattering potential reported by other authors, an electron/hole trapping mechanism leading to hysteresis modification has been determined. The presence of polymer seems to hinder the modulation of the electrode−CNT contact.