Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nanopores on a chip: Applications for analytical tasks in chemistry and biology

Date:
October 10, 2011
Source:
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Summary:
Biological nanopores are proteins of only a few nanometers in diameter that form tiny water-filled canals. They have proven to be promising tools in the field of nanobiotechnology. Researchers in Germany have succeeded in arranging nanopores on a tiny microchip and using it to determine the mass of chain-like molecules called polymers with a high degree of precision.

The biohybrid sensor includes a measuring electrode and is covered by an artificial cell membrane with a single protein nanopore. Shown in red is a polymer molecule that clogs the pore.
Credit: Image courtesy of Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg

Biological nanopores are proteins of only a few nanometers in diameter that form tiny water-filled canals. They have proven to be promising tools in the field of nanobiotechnology. In a joint project at the University of Freiburg, a research group led by Prof. Dr. Jan C. Behrends, Institute of Physiology, and scientists working under Prof. Dr. Jürgen Rühe, Department of Microsystems Technology (IMTEK), have succeeded in arranging nanopores on a tiny microchip and using it to determine the mass of chain-like molecules called polymers with a high degree of precision.

In these experiments, the nanopores assume the role of the actual sensor.. The first author of the study, now published in the journal ACS Nano of the American Chemical Society, Dr. Gerhard Baaken, hopes that the new development will be instrumental in exploiting the great potential of nanopore analysis for chemistry and the life sciences.

In their natural environment, nanopores often have the function of transporting larger molecules. For instance, they convey proteins through membranes. Bacteria also use nanopores to destroy the cells of infected organisms. This is also true of alpha-hemolysin, a protein produced by staphylococci to destroy red blood cells. This protein has also recently found applications in analytical tasks in chemistry and biology. If a large-sized molecule gets into the pore, it becomes partially blocked for fractions of a second.

By measuring the electrical conductivity of the hemolysin pore, scientists can detect the presence of a single molecule -- in a fashion similar to the function of a light barrier. By the same principle it is also possible to make a very precise measurement of the size of the molecule. Scientists are very optimistic about the potential applications -- not only for the analysis of synthetic polymer mixtures, but also for the analysis of genetic material and even as a quick and inexpensive way to sequence DNA.

The Freiburg research team has now succeeded in conducting such measurements on a specially developed biohybrid microsensor made of biological and micro-technical parts. It contains 16 miniaturized artificial cell membranes on only one square millimeter. The individual membranes are spread over minuscule pits, each with a diameter of approximately two-hundredths of a millimeter. That is the equivalent of around one-third of the thickness of a human hair. In their publication, the authors demonstrate that they can use the chip to obtain the distributions of polymer sizes that are accurate to a single chain element. Currently, results of such precision require expensive equipment filling entire rooms. The project is a good example of successful collaboration among strongly diverging disciplines.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gerhard Baaken, Norbert Ankri, Anne-Katrin Schuler, Jürgen Rühe, Jan C. Behrends. Nanopore-Based Single-Molecule Mass Spectrometry on a Lipid Membrane Microarray. ACS Nano, 2011; 110929161956001 DOI: 10.1021/nn202670z

Cite This Page:

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. "Nanopores on a chip: Applications for analytical tasks in chemistry and biology." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111006084026.htm>.
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. (2011, October 10). Nanopores on a chip: Applications for analytical tasks in chemistry and biology. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111006084026.htm
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. "Nanopores on a chip: Applications for analytical tasks in chemistry and biology." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111006084026.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) — Qantas and Virgin say passengers can use their smartphones and tablets throughout flights after a regulator relaxed a ban on electronic devices during take-off and landing. As Hayley Platt reports the move comes as the two domestic rivals are expected to post annual net losses later this week. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) — Huge waves generated by Hurricane Marie hit the Southern California coast. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) — Chinese researchers have expanded on Cold War-era tech and are closer to building a submarine that could reach the speed of sound. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) — An acute coal shortage is likely to be aggravated as India's supreme court declared government coal allocations illegal, says Breakingviews' Peter Thal Larsen. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins