A multi-disciplinary team of scientists from the Universities of Sheffield, Nottingham, Manchester and Glasgow has been awarded a £3m research grant to develop a new nanotechnology tool which they have called the ‘Snomipede’. The team, led by Professor Graham Leggett at the University of Sheffield, hopes that once developed, the Snomipede could enable advances in areas as diverse as the understanding of the origins of disease and the low-cost commercial manufacture of plastic computer chips.
The Snomipede will enable scientists to create tiny molecular structures on scales as small as 13 nanometres. A nanometre unit of measurement is equal to one billionth of a metre.
Once developed, this pioneering new technology will have a multitude of uses in both medical research and commercial manufacturing. In the field of medical research, the ability to construct tiny arrays of biological molecules will enable scientists to conduct extremely sensitive analysis of biological samples. This type of detailed analysis could be used to understand how the human genome – the genetic information in all of our cells – regulates the production of proteins, perhaps holding the key to developing new treatments for common diseases. In addition the Snomipede may provide new tools for studying biological systems at the single molecule level, and enable the manufacture of miniaturised plastic electronic circuits.
Lorna Branton | alfa
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