PHILADELPHIA - Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have developed a new, carbon-based nanoscale platform to electrically detect single DNA molecules.
Using electric fields, the tiny DNA strands are pushed through nanoscale-sized, atomically thin pores in a graphene nanopore platform that ultimately may be important for fast electronic sequencing of the four chemical bases of DNA based on their unique electrical signature.
The pores, burned into graphene membranes using electron beam technology, provide Penn physicists with electronic measurements of the translocation of DNA.
The article, submitted on March 25, is published in the current issue of Nano Letters.
"We were motivated to exploit the unique properties of graphene a two-dimensional sheet of carbon atoms in order to develop a new nanopore electrical platform that could exhibit high resolution," said Marija Drndić, associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in Penn's School of Arts and Sciences and the paper's senior author. "High resolution of graphene nanopore devices is expected because the thickness of the graphene sheet is smaller than the distance between two DNA bases. Graphene has previously been used for other electrical and mechanical devices, but up until now it has not been used for DNA translocation."
The research team had made graphene nanopores in a study completed two years ago and in this study put the pores to work.
To conduct the experiments, Drndić and postdoctoral fellow Christopher A. Merchant, together with Ken Healy, Meni Wanunu, Vishva Ray and other members from the Drndić lab made use of large-area graphene material developed by postdoctoral fellow Zhengtang Luo and Professor A.T. Charlie Johnson, both physicists at Penn. The team used a chemical vapor deposition, or CVD, method to grow large flakes of graphene and suspend them over a single micron-sized hole made in
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