Is it possible to use the quantum-mechanical tunnelling effect for sequencing of biopolymer’s, such as DNA, RNA and proteins? This is an intriguing possibility, but also an enormous challenge. In recent years, we have made significant progress towards this goal, by showing that tunnelling detection of single DNA molecules is indeed compatible with a high-throughput analysis platform (nanopores). We are now pushing the limits on single-base detection in EC-STM, with a combination of surface engineering and state-of-the-art machine learning techniques, including Deep Learning.
- Electrochemical tunnelling sensors and their potential applications
Nature Communications 3, 810–829 (2012)
The quantum-mechanical tunnelling effect allows charge transport across nanometre-scale gaps between conducting electrodes. Application of a voltage between these electrodes leads to a measurable tunnelling current, which is highly sensitive to the gap size, the voltage applied and the medium in the gap. Applied to liquid environments, this offers interesting prospects of using tunnelling currents as a sensitive tool to study fundamental interfacial processes, to probe chemical reactions at the single-molecule level and to analyse the composition of biopolymers such as DNA, RNA or proteins. This offers the possibility of a new class of sensor devices with unique capabilities.
- DNA tunneling detector embedded in a nanopore
A. P. Ivanov, E. Instuli, C. M. McGilvery, G. Baldwin, D. W. McComb, T. Albrecht, and J. B. Edel.
Nano Letters 11, 279-285 (2011)