Silicon nanopillar substrates for enhancing signal intensity in DNA microarrays

B. Ramana Murthy, J. K.K. Ng, E. S. Selamat, N. Balasubramanian, W. T. Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of ordered, high-aspect ratio nanopillar arrays on the surface of silicon-based chips to enhance signal intensity in DNA microarrays is reported. These nanopillars consisting either of a single silicon dioxide substrate or a dual silicon/silicon dioxide substrate are fabricated using deep-UV lithography followed by reactive ion etching. These pillar type arrays provide a three-dimensional high surface-density platform that increases the immobilization capacity of captured probes, enhances target accessibility and reduces background noise interference in DNA microarrays, leading to improved signal-to-noise ratios, sensitivity and specificity. Consequently, it was found that the use of such nanopillars enhanced the hybridization signals by up to seven times as compared to silicon dioxide thin film substrates. In addition, hybridization of synthetic targets to capture probes that contained a single-base variation showed that the perfect matched duplex signals on dual-substrate nanopillars can be up to 23 times higher than the mismatched duplex signals, allowing the targets to be unambiguously identified. These results suggest that the nanopillars, particularly the dual-substrate pillars, are able to enhance the hybridization signals and discrimination power in nucleic acids-based detection, providing an alternative platform for improving the performance of DNA microarrays.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)723-728
Number of pages6
JournalBiosensors and Bioelectronics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Dual-substrate pillars
  • Fluorescence minima
  • High throughput detection
  • Nanopillar arrays
  • SNR enhancement
  • Silica chips

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Electrochemistry


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