Researchers at UC Santa Cruz have developed a new approach for studying single molecules and nanoparticles by combining electrical and optical measurements on an integrated chip-based platform. In a paper published July 9 in Nano Letters, the researchers reported using the device to distinguish viruses from similarly-sized nanoparticles with 100 percent fidelity.
Combining electrical and optical measurements on a single chip provides more information than either technique alone, said corresponding author Holger Schmidt, the Kapany Professor of Optoelectronics in the Baskin School of Engineering and director of the W. M. Keck Center for Nanoscale Optofluidics at UC Santa Cruz. Graduate student Shuo Liu is first author of the paper.
The new chip builds on previous work by Schmidt's lab and his collaborators at Brigham Young University to develop optofluidic chip technology for optical analysis of single molecules as they pass through a tiny fluid-filled channel on the chip. The new device incorporates a nanopore that serves two functions: it acts as a "smart gate" to control the delivery of individual molecules or nanoparticles into the channel for optical analysis; and it allows electrical measurements as a particle passes through the nanopore.
"The nanopore delivers a single molecule into the fluidic channel, where it is then available for optical measurements. This is a useful research tool for doing single-molecule studies," Schmidt said.
Biological nanopores, a technology developed by coauthor David Deamer and others at UC Santa Cruz, can be used to analyze a DNA strand as it passes through a tiny pore embedded in a membrane. Researchers apply voltage across the membrane, which pulls the negatively charged DNA through the pore. Current fluctuations as the DNA moves through the pore provide electrical signals that can be decoded to determine the genetic sequence of the strand.
With the new device, researche
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University of California - Santa Cruz