An electric voltage can be used to propel DNA molecules through a channel a few nanometers deep, or to stop them in their tracks.
In a strong electric field the molecules judder along the channel, while in weaker fields they move more smoothly. This enables DNA fragments to be ‘captured’ on a chip and separated for analysis. University of Twente researchers will soon publish details of this work in Nano Letters.
The researchers found that, when forced through extremely shallow channels just 20 nanometers deep and a few micrometers wide, DNA molecules behave very differently than they do in free solution. In the latter situation they tend to form clumps, while molecules in the channels are forced into an elongated straitjacket.
This effect alone produces a difference in mobility between long and short molecules. Moreover, exposure to an electric field has now been shown to have a substantial effect. This presents a range of new options for the separation of fragments (and entire molecules) of DNA. The previous technique, known as gel electrophoresis, involved the use of micro-channels filled with a gel.
According to researcher Georgette Salieb-Beugelaar, the laborious and time-consuming process of pouring in the gel can be rendered obsolete by the new method.Roughness
Wiebe van der Veen | alfa
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Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
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Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
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