Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Rods barcode reactions

09.10.2001


Stripes help chemists shop for molecules.


Tiny rods could barcode molecules.
© Photodisc



Scientists may soon be sticking bar-coded metal rods into molecules to see what they do in a crowd1. The rods could help to track the functions and interactions of genes, and may aid drug discovery.

At only a few thousandths of a millimetre long, the rods are small enough to fit inside a single red blood cell. Christine Keating, of Pennsylvania State University, and colleagues cast them inside cylindrical pores in a thin film of aluminium oxide using an electrochemical process similar to gold-plating.


The group build up the bar codes by part-filling the pores with a succession of up to seven different metals, including gold, silver, platinum and copper, rather as children fill glass tubes with layers of differently coloured sand. They can give each rod up to 13 distinguishable stripes.

Using just two metals on a rod 6.5 micrometres long with bands of half a micrometre each, there are 4,160 possible combinations. With three metals, the number leaps to about 800,000. This is many more than the total number of genes in human cells, and so a different bar code could easily be assigned to every protein encoded by our genes.

The researchers read the barcodes using a special kind of electron microscopy. Gold bands, for example, appear brighter than silver. The bands are also visible, albeit more fuzzily, in a normal light-based (optical) microscope, which is easier to use and less damaging to living cells. With the right wavelength of light shining on the rod, at least five kinds of metal can be identified by their differing brightnesses.

As the rods are much larger than most molecules, using them as tags is a bit like sticking a price label on a grain of salt. That doesn’t matter as long as adding the label does not significantly alter the molecule’s behaviour. For example, chain-like molecules that bind to gold might be used as flexible linkers that grasp the ’test molecule’ at one end and a gold band on the rod at the other.

References
  1. Nicewarner-Pena, S. R. et al. Submicrometer metallic barcodes. Science, 294, 137 - 141, (2001).


PHILIP BALL | Nature News Service
Further information:
http://www.nature.com/nsu/011011/011011-2.html

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling
07.12.2016 | National Centre for Biological Sciences

nachricht Transforming plant cells from generalists to specialists
07.12.2016 | Duke University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

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

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

How to turn white fat brown

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>