Harnessing this entropic trapping effect for separation through a hydrogel marks a significant advancement in DNA studies, Ugaz says.
Although it has long been predicted that entropic trapping effects can potentially benefit a wide variety of applications including separation technologies, actually figuring out how to use this phenomenon previously has been difficult in hydrogels because it has not been clear how this transport mechanism is linked to the gel's porous structure, Ugaz explains.
In other words, hydrogels need to have very specific properties such as pore size distribution, and prior to these findings, there has been no way to know how to choose the right hydrogel that has the right properties, Ugaz notes.
"You want to be able to detect the smallest possible difference in size between DNA fragments," Ugaz explains. "The size of the fragments may be very close, and you may need to detect a difference of one unit in size. To do this, you would want to be able to specifically construct a hydrogel with the necessary pore structure to achieve this."
Ugaz's research provided the "instructions on how to do just that.
"We have a better picture of how to do this than what has existed," Ugaz says. "We know what the gel needs to look like and how it needs to be prepared.
"We're able to understand how to construct a gel that would allow DNA to move via an entropic trapping method that enhances separation performance and in turn leads to more effective analysis. This finding could have enormous implications by helping remove current barriers to separation efficiency"
|Contact: Ryan Garcia|
Texas A&M University