Francesca Puppo

Memristive biosensors for biomarkers detection in tumor-specimens

Francesca Puppo
, PhD Student, EPFL-IC-LSI
Sandro Carrara, Lecturer and Senior Scientist, EPFL-IC-LSI


The thesis focuses on the design and fabrication of novel memristive-biosensor based on silicon nanowires (SiNWs). In particular, the main objective of the current research is the detection of breast cancer biomarkers on patients specimens at the very early stage of the tumor disease, when their amount in the human organism is very low and still below the detection limit of the state-of-the-art diagnostic tools.

Memristive-biosensors realised with silicon nanowires

The features of the memristive effect give an unique sensing technique, while the unique properties of SiNWs, such as the high surface-to-volume ratio and the tunable electron transport properties due to quantum confinement effect, show great potential for the fabrication of nanosensors which can provide fast, low-cost, and high-throughput analysis of biological processes.

Due to the nano-scale of the fabricated geometries, our sensing devices have been discovered to show hysteretic properties imputable to memristive devices. The changing properties of this hysteretic behavior with the amount of molecules attracted on the nanowire have been found to enable the sensing of molecular species at their very low concentrations. This finding opens the way to the study of a completely new bio-detection mechanism that is combining the molecular selectivity of immunoassays and the sensitivity power of this novel electronic detection based on memristive biosensors.