Application of ion-senstitive field effect transistors for measuring glial cell K+ transport

Yihao Zhu, Goutam Koley, Kenneth Walsh, Ashley Galloway, Pavel Ortinski

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

3 Scopus citations


We report the fabrication and utilization of graphene-based, ion-sensitive field effect transistors (ISFETs) for measuring K+ efflux from immortalized and primary brain glial cells. There is currently an urgent need for developing new technologies for measuring cell membrane ion transport from primary cell cultures. K+-sensitive ISFETs were fabricated by coating the graphene surface with a polymer membrane containing the K+ ionophore valinomycin. Drain current versus gate voltage measurements demonstrated that the ISFETs display sensitivity to K+, but not to Na+ and Ca2+. To determine the feasibility of using ISFETs for recording cell membrane ion transport, ISFET sensors were inserted into recording chambers containing either primary rat glial cells or human U251-MG glioma cells. Activation of K+ channels in the glial cells resulted in a strong, time-dependent increase in the extracellular K+ concentration as measured with the ISFETs. Due to the noninvasive properties of the probes, the ISFETs will be useful for future multi-array, cell-based screening and toxicological studies of primary cell cultures.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIEEE Sensors, SENSORS 2016 - Proceedings
ISBN (Electronic)9781479982875
StatePublished - Jan 5 2017
Event15th IEEE Sensors Conference, SENSORS 2016 - Orlando, United States
Duration: Oct 30 2016Nov 2 2016

Publication series

NameProceedings of IEEE Sensors
ISSN (Print)1930-0395
ISSN (Electronic)2168-9229


Conference15th IEEE Sensors Conference, SENSORS 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited States

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by National Science Foundation Grant # CBET-1606882.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 IEEE.


  • cell membrane ion transport
  • glial cells
  • graphene
  • ion-sensitive field effect transistors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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