Solid-State Nanopore Analyser

The solid-state nanopore analyzer subproject brings together materials science, MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems), CMOS technology, nanostructuring processes, functionalization of technical surfaces, modeling and simulation, machine learning methods ("AI") with innovative microelectronics and microfluidics. The overall goal is to establish solid-state nanopores. Mandatory are industrially manufacturablility to achieve robust and flexible single-molecule sensors. For the first time, this will provide the technological basis  for a practical point of care diagnostic applications using these "next generation" nanopores.

This new technology is based on the measurement of minute ionic currents (~10 nA) through individual engineered nanopores in solid-state membranes. Upon entering the pore, biomolecules e.g. DNA or peptides partially block this current. Microelectronics is enabled to measure the resulting current modulation and provides the information about nature, sequence or modification of these biomolecules. So far, no applications of solid-state nanopores for the detection and sequencing of DNA and RNA or for the characterization of proteins have been commercially realized. The advantages of solid-state nanopores, such as robustness, flexibility, scale-up and integration, are still hindered by unsolved problems in concept, design, fabrication and functionalization. This project aims to solve respective problems.

The project addresses at least two possible approaches: biomimetic solid-state nanopores are constructed analogously to biological nanopores (see the related project), while a disruptive approach envisages the realization of lateral nanochannels. The lateral solution decouples the electrostatic pull of DNA and RNA through guiding nanochannels from detection of base-specific currents between nanogap-electrodes. Both lateral nanochannels and integrated nanogap-electrodes are the technological challenges behind these novel devices.