NIH-grant for DNA sequencing technology

An international team of researchers from TU Delft and the University of Illinois has just received a two and a half million dollar grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to work on a novel form of nanopore technology for DNA sequencing.

The project aims to combine the capabilities of two rapidly evolving fieldsplasmonics and nanopores. “We are using nanopores as sensors,” stated Prof. Cees Dekker, who chairs the department of bionanoscience, in a press release. “Through the nanopores we let a biomolecule such as DNA flow. Upon feeding the molecule through the hole we aim to read off information about it. Our ultimate goal is to read off the sequence of a single DNA molecule in this way.”

“The novel ingredient of our new sensor is a gold nanostructure that acts as an optical antenna and allows us to focus light to a highly intense nanoscale region right at the nanopore,” says Magnus Jonsson, who is a postdoc in Dekker’s lab. “DNA fragments moving through the nanopore will be exposed to the strong optical fields in this ‘plasmonic hot spot’, offering unique means for both controlling the motion of the DNA and for optical readout of the DNA sequence.”

The Delft researchers will perform the experimental work. The colleagues in Illinois will perform simulations of the molecular dynamics.

The grant is part of 17 million dollar award given to eight research teams through the NIH National Human Genome Research Institute’s Advanced DNA Sequencing Technology program, which was launched in 2004.

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