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Volume 125, 2004
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Immobilisation and synthesis of DNA on Si(111), nanocrystalline porous silicon and silicon nanoparticles

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Oligonucleotides have been synthesized on hydrogen-terminated Si(111) and porous silicon using surface hydrosilation of difunctional molecules (1,ω-dimethoxytritylundecenol) to produce a monolayer bearing suitable reactive groups to allow automated solid-phase DNA synthesis. The absence of an intervening oxide enables electrochemical characterisation of the surface-bound oligonucleotides. Complementary sequences to the DNA synthesized on Si(111) undergo hybridisation at the surface and a straightforward electrochemical quantitation of the amount of synthesized DNA and its hybridisation efficiency (47%) is possible using Ru(NH3)63+ as a redox label. In the case of DNA synthesized in porous silicon, electron transfer (ET) between DNA and the underlying bulk semiconductor can be studied by cyclic voltammetry, however the anisotropic diffusion inside the porous layer and the large resistance of the porous silicon results in voltammograms for which thin-layer behaviour is not observed and the peak currents increase with the square root of scan rate. We interpret these voltammograms in terms of charge transport limitations in the layer of metal centres bound to the DNA inside the pores. Further evidence for this interpretation has been obtained using scanning electrochemical microscopy (SECM) to study the charge transport between redox species in films of DNA synthesized on Si(111) surfaces that are in contact with an aqueous phase. As the bulk concentration of Ru(NH3)63+ is reduced below about 250 μM the SECM feedback indicates that the rate of charge transport between surface-bound Ru(NH3)63+ exceeds that due to diffusion in the liquid phase. Electrochemical quantitation of the DNA is not possible in this situation, however we have been able to obtain independent determinations using radioassay based on 32P or UV/VIS spectrophotometry of dimethoxytrityl cation cleaved from the porous layer. In the case of the former, use of labelled complementary sequences shows an inverse relationship between the current density used to prepare the porous silicon and the amount of hybridisation. This can be interpreted in terms of the specific surface area of the porous silicon layers since the hybridisation efficiencies (ca. 40%) obtained by comparing DMT+ cleaved from sequences synthesized on the surface and then from complementary sequences after hybridisation were relatively insensitive to the current density used to prepare the layers. Our recent work has also been concerned with individual Si nanocrystals generated by breaking up porous silicon during thermal hydrosilation reactions. FTIR spectroscopy shows these particles are also coated with an organic Si–C-bonded monolayer and they form stable, non-turbid and strongly luminescent (λmax = 600–650 nm) dispersions in apolar solvents (L. H. Lie, M. S. Duerdin, E. M. Tuite, A. Houlton and B. R. Horrocks, J. Electroanal. Chem., 2002, 538/539, 183). The effect of carrying out synthetic reactions on the porous silicon prior to breaking up the layer is to produce instead larger, micron-scale assemblies with a nanometre scale internal structure. Micron-sized particles of porous silicon produced by breaking up the layer can be probed by confocal Raman spectroscopy using the electric field of a focused laser to trap such particles. Although these particles are also luminescent, the use of relatively long wavelength laser excitation (λ = 785 nm) allows acquisition of Raman spectra from individual particles in the optical trap. The bulk optical phonon mode at ca. 520 cm−1 characteristic of crystalline silicon is red-shifted and broadened providing evidence for an internal nanometre scale substructure in these micron-sized particles and we also see evidence for this mode in the colloidal suspensions of the Si nanoparticles. We propose a model for the formation of these two types of particles and briefly discuss the prospects to extend our solid-phase synthesis on porous silicon to allow the facile synthesis of luminescent Si nanocrystals bearing DNA or other biomolecules.

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Publication details

The article was received on 12 Mar 2003, accepted on 27 May 2003 and first published on 24 Jul 2003

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/B302845C
Citation: Faraday Discuss., 2004,125, 235-249
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    Immobilisation and synthesis of DNA on Si(111), nanocrystalline porous silicon and silicon nanoparticles

    L. H. Lie, S. N. Patole, A. R. Pike, L. C. Ryder, B. A. Connolly, A. D. Ward, E. M. Tuite, A. Houlton and B. R. Horrocks, Faraday Discuss., 2004, 125, 235
    DOI: 10.1039/B302845C

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