EFRI 2-DARE: Two-dimensional nanopores with electro-optical control for next generation biotechnological applications

  • Drndić, Marija (PI)
  • Meunier, Vincent (CoPI)
  • Terrones, Mauricio M. (CoPI)
  • Wanunu, Meni (CoPI)
  • Vamivakas, A. Nick (CoPI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


Two-dimensional nanopores can be used to sequence DNA molecules by recording the variations in ionic current and photon emission as the molecules thread through the nanopore. The electronic and optical properties of nanopores in sub-nanometer thick films will be investigated with the goals to understand the nanopore interaction with nanometer-sized biological materials, such as DNA, proteins, and viruses, as well as non-biological materials, such as nanoparticles and nanorod-shaped metals. Using a combination of techniques, the nanopore size and composition will be specifically tuned to optimize sensitivity to a particular analyte. Ultrathin pores in freestanding two-dimensional atomically thin membranes are expected to yield optimal optical and electrical signals that will fingerprint specific nanoparticles as they move through the nanopore. The proposed research will advance knowledge and understanding across different fields and contribute to a number of National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges, including Engineering the Tools of Scientific Discovery, and Engineering Better Medicines and Advance Health Informatics. Societal impacts include improvement of underrepresented student retention in engineering and science, exposure of K-12 students to state-of-the-art techniques in engineering and science, promoting the participation of women in physics, and training students to make lifelong contributions to technology challenges at the interface of biology, materials science and physics.

Two-dimensional materials beyond graphene, such as transition metal dichalcogenides, possess exciting optical, catalytic, electronic and chemical properties. When these layers contain extended vacancies and form nanoscale nanopores, new and unprecedented physicochemical phenomena are expected. Compared to other solid state nanopores, the benefits of these novel two-dimensional materials in nanoparticle detection, filtration (separation) and analysis, include the potential for improved signal-to-noise ratio, operation at high bandwidths (i.e., sub-microsecond temporal resolution), and the prospect that nanopore perimeters can be bestowed with specific, and potentially reversible, edge/surface functionalities. For example, the optical activation and specific chemical functionalization of nanopores opens the possibility of enhanced control of the particle?s translocation rates. The project will target i) the controlled synthesis and characterization of nanopores in homo/heterostructures of two-dimensional materials, ii) the trapping, fragmentation and translocation of DNA, proteins, and bacteria at specific optical wavelengths and optical powers, iii) laser-induced nanopore activation to reversibly control translocation dynamics as well as the native nanopore fluorescence signal to monitor translocation events, iv) the fabrication of prototype translocation platforms for DNA, bioparticulate analysis, and nanoparticle quantification, and v) the elucidation of the trapping/translocation mechanisms for nanopores with designed edge functionalities.

Effective start/end date8/1/157/31/21


  • National Science Foundation: $2,352,760.00


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