John Kasianowicz of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has spent years trying to create technologies that will enable doctors to perform fast, real-time chemical analysis. One promising approach involves building arrays of tiny pores, each small enough that only one protein or DNA molecule at a time can pass through and be identified.
A recent patent by NIST and collaborators at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) shows that such ‘nanopores’, which may one day help caregivers perform quick analysis of blood samples, are not harmed by the polymerization process that could help them operate in biochips. Polymerization hardens and stabilizes the membrane surrounding the nanopores, both of which are beneficial effects for extending shelf-life.
“As it stands, we make nanopore membranes from fatty lipids that aren’t robust—the membranes only last a week or so. We wanted to extend that lifetime substantially,” says Kasianowicz. “Conceivably, chips made with polymerized membranes could last a year, perhaps much longer,” Kasianowicz says. “The nanopores still allow molecules to flow through for characterization.”
Read more at NIST Tech Beat: Patent could give ‘lab on a chip’ technology long shelf life
Image courtesy of Robertson/NIST