Building and Using the Molecular-Scale Laboratory
In the quest for molecular-level information, molecular-scale tools
are a powerful and desirable scientific goal. Our research program
is centered on the development of a new class of nanofabricated device
based on nanopores.
In its simplest form, a nanopore is nothing more than a molecular-sized
hole in an insulating membrane. Yet even in this configuration, it is
capable of being used to detect and manipulate single molecules. With
careful device engineering, it is possible to create powerful sensors for
the detection of disease biomarkers at low levels early in the onset of
disease, or of trace amounts of toxins, to name but two targets. Configured
differently, nanopore-based devices can be used to probe the intermolecular
interactions that underpin biological function: applications range from
testing new pharmaceutical drug candidates to exploring the fundamental
biophysics governing processes such as antibody-antigen recognition.
Our research program is focused on conceiving of, fabricating and then
optimizing the nanopore devices that will make possible these challenging
goals. We use the techniques and principles of nanofabrication, materials
science, biophysics and analytical chemistry to design and create the
molecular-scale tools that will allow us to sense and manipulate molecules
one at a time.