Sarcosine prostate cancer biomarker with the low concentration of 1 pM has been detected by controlling oxygen from 1 to 15 sccm in a NiOx membrane on chemically etched vertical Si nanowires (SiNWs) in an electrolyte-insulator-nanowire (EIN) structure. The vertical Si nanowires with approximately 17 μm length and polycrystalline NiOx membrane are observed by both field-emission scanning electron microscope (FE-SEM) and high-resolution transmission electron microscope (HRTEM) images, respectively. The optimized NiOx membrane with oxygen content of 4 sccm on planar SiOx/Si substrate shows good pH sensitivity of approximately 50 mV/pH, low hysteresis of 3.4 mV, and low drift rate of 2.4 mV/h as compared to other oxygen content membranes of 1, 10, and 15 sccm. Further, uric acid with the concentration of 0.1 μM is detected directly by using the optimized NiOx membrane. In addition, repeatable H2O2 sensing with the low concentration of 10 pM as well as prostate cancer biomarker is detected, which is owing to the reduction-oxidation phenomena of the NiOx membranes. The sensing mechanism is owing to the Ni2+/Ni3+ oxidation states of the NiOx membrane, which is confirmed by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. The optimized NiOx membrane on vertical Si nanowire in the EIN structure shows a good drift rate of 3.84 mV/h and sarcosine detection with improvement of approximately 1000 times as compared to the planar Si in an electrolyte-insulator-semiconductor (EIS) structure. This sensor paves a way to detect early-stage diagnosis of prostate cancer rapidly in the near future.
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