/Nanofluidics at the interface of complex solvents

Nanofluidics at the interface of complex solvents

PhD - Leuven | More than two weeks ago

Pushing the limits of analyte transport control in liquids at the nanoscale

As genome analysis is quickly revolutionizing the medical world, researchers are turning to the next step in the large scale analysis of biological systems. Imec believes that an important innovation lies in large-scale integration of nanoscale transistors with solid-state nanopore devices for chemical and biological sensing, and nanofiltration.  Leveraging imec’s existing expertise with solid state nanopore and FET devices with cutting edge concepts from nanofluidics opens up opportunities to enhance the fundamental sensing principle of nanopores. 

A nanopore device is the simplest single molecule sensor operating at the nanoscale. By promoting the transport of analytes (proteins or polymers) through such devices it is possible to extract information on the analyte and its size, shape, and charge. Such concepts have been applied both in emerging experimental methods but are also approaching large scale commercial applications. One of the major issues for applications of solid-state nanopores in sequencing or proteomics lies in the lack of control of the translocation of analytes through the nanopore. The aim of this project is to better understand and control the flow of analytes and fluids in a hybrid microfluidic and nanopore environment.

The aim of this project is to investigate the interface of two different solvents at the nanopore and how it can be used to modify the translocation process of analytes. Solvent conditions of interest would involve investigating viscosity, salinity, or pH gradients at the nanopore opening and how they can be used to tune the forces driving analyte molecules through the nanopore. Structurally complex solvents, like room temperature ionic liquids, would be used to allow the easy tunability of structure inside the nanopore confinement with temperature or transverse electrical fields. The ultimate goal is to develop novel sensing methods for detection and characterization of protein or polymer materials. 

The candidate will work on imec fabricated devices as a platform for exploring nanopore physics, and developing new nanofluidic sensing principles by using electrical, chemical and pressure probes of the nanopore FET system. The work will be performed in collaboration with the microfluidics team at imec and within an international collaboration. 

The ideal candidate would have:

  • a background in physics, chemistry, biochemistry or nanotechnology
  • an understanding of numerical methods and programming
  • experience with electrical measurements with electrolytes

Required background: Physics, Biophysics, Chemistry, Nanotechnology, Electrical Engineering or equivalent

Type of work: 60% Experimental, 30% modeling/simulation, 10% literature

Supervisor: Pol Van Dorpe

Daily advisor: Sanjin Marion

The reference code for this position is 2023-122. Mention this reference code on your application form.

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