Nanopores for single molecule detection and manipulation

Within just a decade of pioneering work demonstrating the utility of nanopores for molecular sensing, the field exploded with proposals for using nanopores as sensors, reactors, actuators, transducers, transporters, and other nanodevices. During the last five years, our work in this area has focused on developing a method for sequencing DNA, using solid-state nanopores for single-molecule force spectroscopy, and developing general methods for molecular simulations of such systems.

Nanopores have emerged as versatile tools for sensing, manipulating, and characterizing single biomolecules. Biology, agriculture, and medicine all benefit tremendously from quick and affordable DNA and protein sequencing, a process made possible by nanopore technology. In a typical nanopore measurement, an external electric field is used to drive a charged biomolecule from one side of a thin membrane to the other through a nanopore. Modulations in the ionic current, produced by the passage of biomolecules, report on the size, shape, and charge of the biomolecules.