Cluster-enhanced Nanopore Spectrometry

September 23, 2016

Joseph E. Reiner, VCU Physics

 Nanopore sensing is a powerful single molecule technique that utilizes Coulter-counting at the nanoscale.  The principle of operation is straightforward.  Individual molecules enter an isolated nanopore and block the flow of ions giving rise to current blockades that can be analyzed to learn about the size, charge and structure of a molecule.  The technique is relatively easy to implement and it enables label-free, rapid and non-destructive detection of a wide variety of molecules. Recent interest in nanopore technology has grown with the commercial availability of a miniaturized DNA sequencer (Minion, Oxford Nanopore Technologies).  This handheld sensor has demonstrated the potential to perform rapid genomic analysis in the field and motivates further study of the nanopore for detecting other molecules of interest.  To further advance nanopore sensing, researchers have continued to focus on understanding the physical and chemical phenomenon that give rise to current blockades.  This talk will describe my work in this area, which focuses on reducing blockade fluctuations and increasing analyte residence time with the use of metallic nanoclusters.  The goal is to utilize cluster-based nanopore spectrometry to improve the selectivity of the pore and this will be demonstrated for a number of biologically relevant peptides.