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Issue 4, 2011
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An algorithm for three-dimensional Monte-Carlo simulation of charge distribution at biofunctionalized surfaces

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Abstract

In this work, a Monte-Carlo algorithm in the constant-voltage ensemble for the calculation of 3d charge concentrations at charged surfaces functionalized with biomolecules is presented. The motivation for this work is the theoretical understanding of biofunctionalized surfaces in nanowire field-effect biosensors (BioFETs). This work provides the simulation capability for the boundary layer that is crucial in the detection mechanism of these sensors; slight changes in the charge concentration in the boundary layer upon binding of analyte molecules modulate the conductance of nanowire transducers. The simulation of biofunctionalized surfaces poses special requirements on the Monte-Carlo simulations and these are addressed by the algorithm. The constant-voltage ensemble enables us to include the right boundary conditions; the DNA strands can be rotated with respect to the surface; and several molecules can be placed in a single simulation box to achieve good statistics in the case of low ionic concentrations relevant in experiments. Simulation results are presented for the leading example of surfaces functionalized with PNA and with single- and double-stranded DNA in a sodium-chloride electrolyte. These quantitative results make it possible to quantify the screening of the biomolecule charge due to the counter-ions around the biomolecules and the electrical double layer. The resulting concentration profiles show a three-layer structure and non-trivial interactions between the electric double layer and the counter-ions. The numerical results are also important as a reference for the development of simpler screening models.

Graphical abstract: An algorithm for three-dimensional Monte-Carlo simulation of charge distribution at biofunctionalized surfaces

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Publication details

The article was received on 22 Oct 2010, accepted on 09 Dec 2010 and first published on 08 Feb 2011


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C0NR00791A
Citation: Nanoscale, 2011,3, 1608-1617
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    An algorithm for three-dimensional Monte-Carlo simulation of charge distribution at biofunctionalized surfaces

    A. Bulyha and C. Heitzinger, Nanoscale, 2011, 3, 1608
    DOI: 10.1039/C0NR00791A

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