A new type of nanotechnology-based filter that can separate out mixtures of biological molecules has been developed by researchers at the University of California, Davis. The technology could potentially be used, for example, to build small-scale devices for research in genomics by sorting mixtures of different proteins or DNA molecules.
The filter consists of a polycarbonate membrane etched with tiny, evenly-sized pores less than 10 nanometers -- a few billionths of an inch -- in size. The pores are lined with a thin layer of gold and then with another layer of oily molecules called thiols. The thiols spontaneously arrange themselves into a membrane one molecule deep, with all the thiol molecules pointing the same way.
These thiols are chains of carbon atoms, with a sulfur atom at one end and an acidic region at the other end. The sulfur allows the thiol to stick to the gold layer, and the acidic end can then interact with whatever flows past. The final pores are less than nine nanometers wide.
Andy Fell | EurekAlert!
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