Nanostructures for Single-Molecule Biophysics

When: Thursday, December 08, 2011 at 4:00 pm
Where: DA 114
Speaker: Professor Derek Stein
Organization: Department of Physics, Brown University
Sponsor: Physics Colloquium

“Lab-on-a-chip” fluidic technology was inspired by electronic integrated circuits, from which the name and the “smaller, cheaper, faster” maxim are borrowed. As we shrink fluidic devices down to the nanoscale, new physical phenomena emerge, along with new possibilities for studying single molecules and developing bioanalytical applications. In particular, I will describe how sculpting the free energy landscape in a nanofluidic device enables us to control the conformations and transport of single DNA molecules. The nanotopography in a device determines the entropic landscape by leveraging the statistical properties of confined polymers. Furthermore, the fluidic version of the field-effect can be employed to conrol the enthalpic landscape of DNA molecules sequencing technology that aims to combine the benefits of nanopores with the speed, sensitivity, and robustness of DNA base detection by mass spectrometry. The basic idea is to cleave the individual nucleotides or bases from a DNA polymer as they transit a nanopore in sequence, and the identify each one by determining its charge-to-mass ratio in a mass spectrometer. I will describe the nanopore mass spectrometry sequencing concept, how it addresses the challenges faced by other nanopore-based approaches, and the challenges this new approach presents.

Host: Professor Meni Wanunu