/Hybrid Nanopore Sensors for Biomolecule Sensing

Hybrid Nanopore Sensors for Biomolecule Sensing

Leuven | More than two weeks ago

Explore the next generation of nanopore sensors for extreme biomolecule sensitivity

Nowadays biological nanopores are used in state-of-the-art DNA sequencing devices due to their high sensitivity which allows them to discriminate individual bases on single-stranded DNA. However, this technology is not scalable, the number of pores that can be integrated on a chip is limited. Consequently, the technology’s throughput, or the number of molecules that can be analyzed per unit of time, is limited. Solid-state nanopore technology is more scalable. With significant progress in CMOS process technology, we are now able to manufacture nano-scale devices, e.g. Field-Effect Transistors (FETs), with feature sizes down to 7 nm. This has opened doors not just for better computing but also for areas like bio-sensing for proteins and DNA.

The advantageous scalability and robustness of solid-state nanopore technology can be leveraged for the next generation of biosensors, but several challenges still need to be tackled, like the lack of sensitivity and the variability of sensitivity. A promising solution is the combination of a biological nanopore with a solid-state nanopore into a hybrid nanopore to endow solid-state pores with the high sensitivity of biological nanopores. In this master thesis, the student will investigate solid-state nanopores, biological nanopores and their combination into hybrid nanopores. Multiple aspects will be studied.

The surface of the solid-state nanopore will play an important role in the incorporation of the biological nanopore and in biosensing in general. Coatings such as Self-Assembled Monolayers (SAM), tethered lipid monolayers and Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) coatings are potential candidates. For a solid-state nanopore, coatings strongly impact the electroosmotic flow through the nanopore, the wetting of the nanopore and the anti-fouling properties that avoid unspecific interactions with biomolecules.

During the master thesis, the biological nanopore sensitivity will be characterized and compared to the solid-state nanopore sensitivity. Different types and methods of surface coatings for the surface functionalization of the solid-state nanopores will be investigated and optimized for biological nanopore incorporation and biosensing. The thesis will involve working in the cleanroom, bio-chemistry labs and on electrical characterization tools. Molecular sensitivity and the potential of obtaining hybrid nanopore molecular sensors will be investigated.

Figure: Nanopore FET illustration. [Xie et al. Nature Nanotechnology vol. 7, p. 119–125 (2012).]




Type of project: Thesis, Internship, Combination of internship and thesis

Required degree: Master of Science, Master of Engineering Science

Required background: Bioscience Engineering, Chemistry/Chemical Engineering, Nanoscience & Nanotechnology

Supervising scientist(s): For further information or for application, please contact: Juliette Gevers (Juliette.Gevers@imec.be) and Koen Martens (Koen.Martens@imec.be) and Pol Van Dorpe (Pol.VanDorpe@imec.be)

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