Navigation Links
Columbia Engineering and Penn researchers increase speed of single-molecule measurements
Date:3/18/2012

New York, NYMarch 18, 2012As nanotechnology becomes ever more ubiquitous, researchers are using it to make medical diagnostics smaller, faster, and cheaper, in order to better diagnose diseases, learn more about inherited traits, and more. But as sensors get smaller, measuring them becomes more difficultthere is always a tradeoff between how long any measurement takes to make and how precise it is. And when a signal is very weak, the tradeoff is especially big.

A team of researchers at Columbia Engineering, led by Electrical Engineering Professor Ken Shepard, together with colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania, has figured out a way to measure nanoporestiny holes in a thin membrane that can detect single biological molecules such as DNA and proteinswith less error than can be achieved with commercial instruments. They have miniaturized the measurement by designing a custom integrated circuit using commercial semiconductor technology, building the nanopore measurement around the new amplifier chip. Their research will be published in the Advance Online Publication on Nature Methods's website on 18 March at 1400 (2pm) US Eastern time/ 1800 London time.

Nanopores are exciting scientists because they may lead to extremely low-cost and fast DNA sequencing. But the signals from nanopores are very weak, so it is critically important to measure them as cleanly as possible.

"We put a tiny amplifier chip directly into the liquid chamber next to the nanopore, and the signals are so clean that we can see single molecules passing through the pore in only one microsecond," says Jacob Rosenstein, a Ph.D. candidate in electrical engineering at Columbia Engineering and lead author of the paper. "Previously, scientists could only see molecules that stay in the pore for more than 10 microseconds."

Many single-molecule measurements are currently made using optical techniques, which use fluorescent molecules that emit photons at a particular wavelength. But, while fluorescence is very powerful, its major limitation is that each molecule usually produces only a few thousand photons per second. "This means you can't see anything that happens faster than a few milliseconds, because any image you could take would be too dim," explains Shepard, who is Rosenstein's advisor. "On the other hand, if you can use techniques that measure electrons or ions, you can get billions of signals per second. The problem is that for electronic measurements there is no equivalent to a fluorescent wavelength filter, so even though the signal comes through, it is often buried in background noise."

Shepard's group has been interested in single-molecule measurements for several years looking at a variety of novel transduction platforms. They began working with nanopore sensors after Marija Drndic, a professor of physics at the University of Pennsylvania, gave a seminar at Columbia Engineering in 2009. "We saw that nearly everybody else measures nanopores using classical electrophysiology amplifiers, which are mostly optimized for slower measurements," notes Shepard. "So we designed our own integrated circuit instead."

Rosenstein designed the new electronics and did much of the lab work. Drndic's group at the University of Pennsylvania fabricated the nanopores that the team then measured in their new system.

"While most groups are trying to slow down DNA, our approach is to build faster electronics," says Drndic. "We combined the most sensitive electronics with the most sensitive solid-state nanopores."

"It's very exciting to be able to make purely electronic measurements of single molecules," says Rosenstein. "The setup for nanopore measurements is very simple and portable. It doesn't require a complicated microscope or high powered instruments; it just requires attention to detail. You can easily imagine nanopore technology having a major impact on DNA sequencing and other medical applications within the next few years."

Shepard's group is continuing to improve these techniques. "With a next-generation design," he says, "we may be able to get a further 10X improvement, and measure things that last only 100 nanoseconds. Our lab is also working with other electronic single-molecule techniques based on carbon nanotube transistors, which can leverage similar electronic circuits. This is an exciting time!"


'/>"/>

Contact: Holly Evarts
holly@engineering.columbia.edu
347-453-7408
Columbia University
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Columbia engineers map energy use in NYC buildings
2. New Columbia engineering technique diagnoses non-periodic arrhythmias in a single heartbeat
3. Columbia River salmon are adapting to climate change
4. Columbia engineering innovative hand-held lab-on-a-chip could streamline blood testing worldwide
5. Columbia Engineering team makes major step in improving forecasts of weather extremes
6. Columbia engineers develop new method to diagnose heart arrhythmias
7. Columbia researchers find green roof is a cost-effective way to keep water out of sewers
8. Columbia engineers patch a heart
9. Columbia professor to discuss good, bad aspects of choice at NJIT March 23 talk
10. Columbia engineer observes surprising behavior of cells during blood-vessel formation
11. Columbia University uses technological innovation to study bone structure
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Columbia Engineering and Penn researchers increase speed of single-molecule measurements
(Date:4/15/2016)... Research and Markets has announced ... 2016-2020,"  report to their offering.  , ... global gait biometrics market is expected to grow ... 2016-2020. Gait analysis generates multiple variables ... to compute factors that are not or cannot ...
(Date:3/31/2016)... March 31, 2016  Genomics firm Nabsys has completed ... Barrett Bready , M.D., who returned to the ... original technical leadership team, including Chief Technology Officer, ... Development, Steve Nurnberg and Vice President of Software and ... company. Dr. Bready served as CEO of ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... and SANDY, Utah , March ... operates the highest sample volume laboratory in ... and UNIConnect, leaders in clinical sequencing informatics and molecular ... of a project to establish the informatics infrastructure for ... NSO has been contracted by the Ontario Ministry ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/27/2016)... ... April 27, 2016 , ... Global Stem Cells Group ... Ross is the founder of GSCG affiliate Kimera Labs in Miami. , In 2004, ... hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for hematologic disorders and the suppression of graft vs. host ...
(Date:4/26/2016)... , ... April 27, 2016 , ... ... Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP as an associate in the firm’s Intellectual Property ... international electrical, mechanical and electromechanical patent applications. He has an electrical engineering and ...
(Date:4/26/2016)... San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) , ... April 26, 2016 , ... ... RPO division for Adecco RPO, signing the first multi-million dollar, multi-year managed services contract ... are delighted to have Michael join our leadership team,” said John Younger, founder of ...
(Date:4/26/2016)... VIENNA and ... The prize recognizes the innovation capabilities ... innovations that will benefit patients and laboratory diagnostics ... ) , Norma Instruments , ... setting products in the field of hematology, announced ...
Breaking Biology Technology: