The response of ISFETs (ion-sensitive field-effect transistors) to concentrations of ions, especially H+ ions, is determined by the type of gate surface. Both the number of active surface sites and (proton) association and dissociation constants influence the sensitivity. In the case of a chemically-modified gate surface, a new surface is formed, which generally has a different sensitivity. It is shown that the original pH response of the gate oxide can be either lowered or increased, depending on the reactivity of the added groups. In general, coverage with apolar groups and reduction of the number of sites result in a lower pH response, while addition of basic or acidic groups as well as an increase of active sites give a higher pH response. Using the extended site-dissociation model, which describes the behaviour of a surface composed of two types of sites, theoretical curves for surface potential versus pH are calculated. Measurements with chemically-treated siO2 and Ta2O5 ISFETs confirm the theoretical expectations. The conclusion has been drawn that by a proper choice of chemical treatment, both the point of zero charge (pzc) and the pH-insensitive rage can be changed.
van den Berg, A., Bergveld, P., Reinhoudt, D., & Sudhölter, E. J. R. (1985). Sensitivity control of ISFETs by chemical surface modification. Sensors and actuators, 8(2), 129-148. https://doi.org/10.1016/0250-6874(85)87010-4