The aim of this study is to develop a nucleic acid sensor based on piezoelectric crystal microbalance system (QCM) for following hybridization. Piezoelectric quartz crystal surfaces were first treated in a glow-discharge apparatus with ethylene diamine (EDA) plasma at 15 W (discharge power), 2.5 min (incubation time) and 35 ml/min (monomer flow rate) to create amino groups on the crystal surfaces. The thickness of the EDA-plasma film formed was about 43 +/- 24 Angstrom. Then, the amino groups on the crystal surfaces were converted to aldehyde groups by reacting the amino groups with glutaraldehyde (GA) at different conditions. A GA concentration of 2.5% and an incubation time of 2 h were selected as optimal values at this step, corresponding to a GA surface concentration of about 270 ng/cm(2). A double strand Oligonucleotides, having one extra base on 5-end of one of the complementary strands, were immobilized through the amino groups of this base onto the GA-modified crystals. Optimal immobilization conditions were as follows: oligonucleotide concentration: 1 mug/ml; time: 3 h; pH: 9.2 carbonate buffer; ionic strength: 0.1; and temperature: 20 degreesC. The QCM sensor carrying the covalently bound strand was used in the hybridization experiments, which showed that equilibrium is achieved in about 5 min, and the frequency shift measured is related to the concentration of the target strand to be measured within the medium. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.