Detecting Protein Translocations on SiN Nanopores

Leuven - Master projects/internships
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More than two weeks ago

Enable reliable detection of rapid (1us) protein translocation events on high-bandwidth SiN nanopores

Nanopores have shown incredible promise in DNA sequencing in small point of care devices, as illustrated by the success of the Oxford nanopore mini-ION sequencer, that was used in the field during the Ebola outbreak. Imec is doing research to integrate nanopores with semiconductor technology. This holds the promise of dense arrays of nanopores with integrated electronics for high-throughput sensing that will enable cost-effective point-of-care DNA or proteomic tests facilitating the early diagnosis of cancer and other diseases.

This master thesis topic is on using SiN nanopores manufactured by imec to detect DNA and proteins as they translocate through the nanopore.  The biomolecule translocation results in a drop in the ionic current through the pore that can be detected with a sensitive patch-clamp current amplifier. The student will investigate the bandwidth of the technique – what is the shortest DNA fragment that can be detected? The next challenge will be detecting proteins - which are challenging to detect as they translocate the nanopore extremely fast (typical, 1µS). The use of lipid bilayer coatings to slow down protein translocation will be investigated to enable reliable protein translocation detection. Features of the translocation signal will be analyzed to extract information like the protein size and shape.

We are looking for a student with an interest in experimental work at the interface of physics, biology and engineering. 
The research objectives are:

  • Develop a reproducible protocol for DNA translocation on SiN nanopores
  • Experimentally determine the bandwidth of the setup
  • Develop suitable anti-foaling coatings e.g. lipid-bilayers for protein translocation on nanopores
  • Develop methods for slowing protein translocation though nanopores to make them detectable with the bandwidth of the setup.


Type of Project: Thesis

Duration: 1 year

Master's degree: Master of Science; Master of Engineering Science

Master program: Nanoscience & Nanotechnology; Biomedical engineering; Bioscience Engineering; Physics; Electrotechnics/Electrical Engineering

Supervising scientists: For further information or for application, please contact Jaco Delport (jaco.delport@imec.be) and Pol Van Dorpe (pol.vandorpe@imec.be).

Only for self-supporting students

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