Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors


Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Nano "Tractor Beam" Traps DNA: Researchers use beams of light to grab and hold molecules

DNA molecules in a nanoscale channel get trapped by light.
When DNA molecules suspended in a tiny stream of water flow through a nanoscale channel, they can be captured by a field of light if that light is confined in a device called a slot waveguide. The pressure from the light can then propel the DNA along the waveguide channel to bring the molecules to new locations. Such manipulation could prove valuable for assembling nanoscale structures, driving powerful sensors and developing a range of other technologies.

Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation
DNA molecules in a nanoscale channel get trapped by light.
When DNA molecules suspended in a tiny stream of water flow through a nanoscale channel, they can be captured by a field of light if that light is confined in a device called a slot waveguide. The pressure from the light can then propel the DNA along the waveguide channel to bring the molecules to new locations. Such manipulation could prove valuable for assembling nanoscale structures, driving powerful sensors and developing a range of other technologies.

Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation

Abstract:
Using a beam of light shunted through a tiny silicon channel, researchers have created a nanoscale trap that can stop free floating DNA molecules and nanoparticles in their tracks. By holding the nanoscale material steady while the fluid around it flows freely, the trap may allow researchers to boost the accuracy of biological sensors and create a range of new 'lab on a chip' diagnostic tools.

Nano "Tractor Beam" Traps DNA: Researchers use beams of light to grab and hold molecules

Arlington, VA | Posted on January 1st, 2009

The Cornell University research team reports its findings in the Jan. 1, 2009, issue of the journal Nature.

"For this research to emerge in the marketplace in a device such as a 'lab on a chip', it is essential for engineers to be able to manipulate matter at the scale of molecules and atoms, particularly while the matter is contained within a fluid stream only slightly larger than the particles themselves," says William Schultz, the National Science Foundation (NSF) program officer who oversaw the researchers' grant. "NSF and other funding agencies have made nano-science and -technology a high priority. The Cornell researchers have made an important step in realizing the full potential of these devices."

Light has been used to manipulate cells and even nanoscale objects before, but the new technique allows researchers to manipulate the particles more precisely and over longer distances.

"At the nanoscale, we can think of light like a series of massless particles called photons," says Cornell engineer David Erickson, one of the co-authors of the study. "We've demonstrated a way to condense these photons down to a very small area and stream them along a special type of waveguide, a device that acts like a nanoscale optical fiber. When pieces of matter, like DNA or nanoparticles, float near these streaming photons, they are sucked in and pushed along with the flow. The effect is sort of like moving a truck by throwing baseballs at it. The trick is that we found a way to have a large number of highly efficient "collisions" between the photons and the nanoparticles, getting them to stay in our device and keep them moving along it."

Erickson and fellow Cornell engineer Michal Lipson, along with their graduate students Allen Yang, Sean Moore and Bradley Schmidt, and colleagues in Erickson's and Lipson's research groups, crafted a wave guide to shunt light into a narrow beam, laying a trap for the DNA and other small pieces of material.

Each of the tiny channels within the waveguide is only 60-120 nanometers (billionths of a meter) wide, thinner than the 1,500 nanometer wavelength of the infrared laser light channeling through them. The channels keep the light waves focused and enhance their ability to interact with the DNA particles, preventing them from flowing by.

The breakthrough is the use of the slot waveguide, which condenses a light wave's energy to scales as small as the target molecules, overcoming prior limitations caused by light diffraction. Because the waveguide is also a "nanochannel" it can both trap and transport objects using light.

For their experiments, the researchers used water solutions containing either DNA or tiny nanoparticles, washing the fluids over the waveguide microchannels. At a speed of 80 micrometers per second, the system traps less than a fourth of the target particles flowing by, but with smaller channel sizes, slower flows and higher energy lasers, the success rate increases.

"What we're hoping to do now is better understand some of the underlying physics to see what else might be possible with this approach," adds Erickson. "Ultimately we imagine being able to take all the ultrafast and highly efficient optical devices that have been developed for communications and other applications over the last 20 years and apply them to the manipulation of matter in different types of nanosystems. Hopefully in the future we can shuttle around individual strands of DNA the same way we now shuttle around light."

In future iterations of the system, the light will both capture the particles and transport them, so the DNA would arrive at the trap and then be directed to another location, such as a sensor or a staging ground for the assembly of a structure.

####

About National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering, with an annual budget of $6.06 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to over 1,900 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 45,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes over 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards over $400 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Media Contacts
Joshua A. Chamot
NSF
(703) 292-7730


Bill Steele
Cornell University
(607) 255-7164


Program Contacts
William Schultz
NSF
(703) 292-4418


Principal Investigators
David Erickson
Cornell University
(607) 255-4861

Copyright © National Science Foundation

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

View a video of DNA molecules suspended in a stream of water flowing through a nanoscale channel.

The Erickson Laboratory

Related News Press

News and information

Vortex laser offers hope for Moore's Law: The optics advancement may solve an approaching data bottleneck by helping to boost computing power and information transfer rates tenfold July 30th, 2016

New method for making green LEDs enhances their efficiency and brightness July 30th, 2016

Novel state of matter: Observation of a quantum spin liquid July 29th, 2016

A new type of quantum bits July 29th, 2016

Videos/Movies

New remote-controlled microrobots for medical operations July 23rd, 2016

Scientists glimpse inner workings of atomically thin transistors July 21st, 2016

Graphene photodetectors: Thinking outside the 2-D box July 21st, 2016

A 'bridge' of carbon between nerve tissues: A high-tech 'sponge' connects neurons in vitro (and is biocompatible in vivo) July 18th, 2016

Molecular Machines

New remote-controlled microrobots for medical operations July 23rd, 2016

Pushing a single-molecule switch: An international team of researchers from Donostia International Physics Center, Fritz-Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society, University of Liverpool, and the Polish Academy of Sciences has shown a new way to operate a single-molecule switch July 19th, 2016

Researchers harness DNA as the engine of super-efficient nanomachine: New platform detects traces of everything from bacteria to viruses, cocaine and metals July 10th, 2016

On the path toward molecular robots: Scientists at Japan's Hokkaido University have developed light-powered molecular motors that repetitively bend and unbend, bringing us closer to molecular robots. July 8th, 2016

Molecular Nanotechnology

New remote-controlled microrobots for medical operations July 23rd, 2016

Scientists develop way to upsize nanostructures into light, flexible 3-D printed materials: Virginia Tech, Livermore National Lab researchers develop hierarchical 3-D printed metallic materials July 20th, 2016

Pushing a single-molecule switch: An international team of researchers from Donostia International Physics Center, Fritz-Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society, University of Liverpool, and the Polish Academy of Sciences has shown a new way to operate a single-molecule switch July 19th, 2016

Researchers harness DNA as the engine of super-efficient nanomachine: New platform detects traces of everything from bacteria to viruses, cocaine and metals July 10th, 2016

Discoveries

Vortex laser offers hope for Moore's Law: The optics advancement may solve an approaching data bottleneck by helping to boost computing power and information transfer rates tenfold July 30th, 2016

New method for making green LEDs enhances their efficiency and brightness July 30th, 2016

Novel state of matter: Observation of a quantum spin liquid July 29th, 2016

A new type of quantum bits July 29th, 2016

Announcements

Vortex laser offers hope for Moore's Law: The optics advancement may solve an approaching data bottleneck by helping to boost computing power and information transfer rates tenfold July 30th, 2016

New method for making green LEDs enhances their efficiency and brightness July 30th, 2016

Novel state of matter: Observation of a quantum spin liquid July 29th, 2016

A new type of quantum bits July 29th, 2016

Nanobiotechnology

Scientists change properties of zeolites to improve hemodialysis July 29th, 2016

Starpharma initiates new DEPô drug delivery program with AstraZeneca July 27th, 2016

Scientists test nanoparticle drug delivery in dogs with osteosarcoma July 26th, 2016

Accurate design of large icosahedral protein nanocages pushes bioengineering boundaries: Scientists used computational methods to build ten large, two-component, co-assembling icosahedral protein complexes the size of small virus coats July 25th, 2016

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

Vortex laser offers hope for Moore's Law: The optics advancement may solve an approaching data bottleneck by helping to boost computing power and information transfer rates tenfold July 30th, 2016

Beating the heat a challenge at the nanoscale: Rice University scientists detect thermal boundary that hinders ultracold experiments July 28th, 2016

Attosecond physics: Mapping electromagnetic waveforms July 25th, 2016

RMIT researchers make leap in measuring quantum states July 21st, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







Car Brands
Buy website traffic