Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Aluminum-Oxide Nanopore Beats Other Materials For DNA Analysis

Fast and affordable genome sequencing has moved a step closer with a new solid-state nanopore sensor being developed by researchers at the University of Illinois.

The nanopore sensor, made by drilling a tiny hole through a thin film of aluminum oxide, could ultimately prove capable of performing DNA analysis with a single molecule, offering tremendous possibilities for personalized medicine and advanced diagnostics.

“Solid-state nanopore sensors have shown superior chemical, thermal and mechanical stability over their biological counterparts, and can be fabricated using conventional semiconductor processes,” said Rashid Bashir, a Bliss Professor of electrical and computer engineering and bioengineering, and the director of the university’s Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory.

“The aluminum-oxide nanopore sensors go a step further,” Bashir said, “exhibiting superior mechanical properties, enhanced noise performance and increased lifetime over their silicon-oxide and silicon-nitride counterparts.”

The researchers describe the fabrication and operation of the aluminum-oxide nanopore sensor in a paper accepted for publication in Advanced Materials, and posted on the journal’s Web site.

To make the sensor, the researchers begin by using a technique called atomic layer deposition to produce a very thin film of aluminum oxide on a silicon substrate.

Next, the central portion of the substrate is etched away, leaving the film as a suspended membrane. An electron beam is then used to create a very tiny hole – a nanopore – in the membrane.

The process of making the nanopore resulted in an unexpected bonus, Bashir said. “As the electron beam forms the nanopore, it also heats the surrounding material, forming nanocrystallites around the nanopore. These crystals help to improve the mechanical integrity of the nanopore structure and could potentially improve noise performance as well.”

The nanopore sensors described in the paper had pore diameters ranging in size from 4 to 16 nanometers, and a film thickness of approximately 50 nanometers. Thinner membranes are possible with atomic layer deposition, Bashir said, and would offer higher resolution of the detection.

“Thinner membranes can produce less noise as a molecule travels through the nanopore,” said Bashir, who is also affiliated with the university’s Beckman Institute, the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory, and the Institute for Genomic Biology. “Ultimately, we’d like to make our membranes as thin as biological membranes, which are about 5 nanometers thick.”

To demonstrate the functionality of the aluminum-oxide nanopores, the researchers performed experiments with pieces of DNA containing approximately 5,000 base pairs. Bashir’s team verified the detection of single molecules, with a signal-to-noise performance comparable to that achieved with other solid-state nanopore technology.

“More work must be done to achieve single base resolution, however,” Bashir said. “Our next step is to detect and measure significantly shorter molecules.”

With Bashir, co-authors of the paper are graduate students Bala Murali Venkatesan (lead author), Brian Dorvel, Sukru Yemenicioglu and Nicholas Watkins, and principal research scientist Ivan Petrov.

Funding was provided by the National Institutes of Health.

| University of Illinois
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Strong, steady forces at work during cell division
20.10.2016 | University of Massachusetts at Amherst

nachricht Disturbance wanted
20.10.2016 | Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Innovative technique for shaping light could solve bandwidth crunch

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's MAVEN mission observes ups and downs of water escape from Mars

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>