Navigation Links
Penn engineers create carbon nanopipettes that are smaller than cells and measure electric current

PHILADELPHIA - University of Pennsylvania engineers and physicians have developed a carbon nanopipette thousands of times thinner than a human hair that measures electric current and delivers fluids into cells. Researchers developed this tiny carbon-based tool to probe cells with minimal intrusion and inject fluids without damaging or inhibiting cell growth.

Glass micropipettes are found in almost every cell laboratory in the world but are fragile at small scales, can cause irreparable cell damage and cannot be used as injectors and electrodes simultaneously. Haim Bau, a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics at Penn, and his team developed tiny carbon-based pipettes that can be mass-produced to eliminate the problems associated with glass micropipettes. Although they range in size from a few tens to a few hundred nanometers, they are far stronger and more flexible than traditional glass micropipettes. If the tip of a carbon nanopipette, or CNP, is pressed against a surface, the carbon tip bends and flexes, then recovers its initial shape. They are rigid enough to penetrate muscle cells, carcinoma cells and neurons.

Researchers believe the pipettes will be useful for concurrently measuring electrical signals of cells during fluid injection. In addition, the pipettes are transparent to X rays and electrons, making them useful when imaging even at the molecular level. Adding a functionalized protein to the pipette creates a nanoscale biosensor that can detect the presence of proteins.

Penns Micro-Nano Fluidics Laboratory now mass-produces these pipettes and uses them to inject reagents into cells without damaging the cells, Bau said. "We are ultimately interested in developing nanosurgery tools to monitor cellular processes and control or alter cellular functions. We feel CNPs will help scientists gain a better understanding of how a cell functions and help develop new drugs and therapeutics."

Just as important as the mechanical properties of carbon nanopipettes, however, is the ease of fabrication, said Michael Schrlau, a doctoral candidate and first author of the study, Carbon Nanopipettes for Cell Probes and Intracellular Injection, published in the most recent issue of Nanotechnology. After depositing a carbon film inside quartz micropipettes, we wet-etch away the quartz tip to expose a carbon nanopipe. We can simultaneously produce hundreds of these integrated nanoscale devices without any complex assembly, he said.

The next challenge for researchers is fully utilizing the new tools in nanosurgery.

"We will need to go beyond the proof-of-concept, development stage into the utilization stage," Schrlau said. "This includes finding the appropriate collaborations across engineering, life science and medical disciplines."


Contact: Jordan Reese
University of Pennsylvania

Related biology news :

1. President honors mentors of scientists and engineers
2. Nanoengineers mine tiny diamonds for drug delivery
3. Engineers study brain folding in higher mammals
4. Institution of Chemical Engineers chooses Elsevier as publishing partner
5. CU researcher engineers sorghum that grows in poisonous soils
6. Boston University biomedical engineers find chink in bacterias armor
7. UCR engineers to develop new tool to measure how environmental exposures affect health
8. Princeton engineers develop low-cost recipe for patterning microchips
9. Bioengineers at University of Pennsylvania devise nanoscale system to measure cellular forces
10. New techniques create butanol
11. Researchers create mathematical model of fruit fly eyes
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Penn engineers create carbon nanopipettes that are smaller than cells and measure electric current
(Date:11/12/2015)... , Nov. 12, 2015  Arxspan has ... of MIT and Harvard for use of its ... information management tools. The partnership will support the ... biological and chemical research information internally and with ... be used for managing the Institute,s electronic laboratory ...
(Date:11/9/2015)... ) ... "Global Law Enforcement Biometrics Market 2015-2019" ... ) has announced the addition of ... 2015-2019" report to their offering. ... ) has announced the addition of the ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... 2015  The J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) policy ... and Biosecurity: Lessons Learned and Options for the Future," ... Human Services guidance for synthetic biology providers has worked ... --> --> Synthetic biology promises ... to pose unique biosecurity threats. It now is easier ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... , England , November 26, 2015 ... Lightpoint Medical, an innovative medical device company specializing in imaging ... grant from the European Commission as part of the Horizon ... the company to carry out a large-scale clinical trial in ... -->      (Logo: , --> ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... HOLLISTON, Mass. , Nov. 25, 2015 ... a biotechnology company developing bioengineered organ implants for life-threatening ... will present at the LD Micro "Main Event" investor ... PT. The presentation will be webcast live and posted ... also be available at the conference for one-on-one meetings ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015 The Global ... a professional and in-depth study on the current ... (Logo: ) , The ... including definitions, classifications, applications and industry chain structure. ... international markets including development trends, competitive landscape analysis, ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: HALO ) will be presenting at the ... on Wednesday, December 2 at 9:30 a.m. ET/6:30 a.m. PT . ... a corporate overview. th Annual Oppenheimer Healthcare Conference ... a.m. PT . Jim Mazzola , vice president of ... --> th Annual Oppenheimer Healthcare Conference in ...
Breaking Biology Technology: