Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Caltech Physicists Create First Nanoscale Mass Spectrometer: Device can instantly measure the mass of an individual molecule

Progressively magnified scanning electron micrographs showing one of the doubly-clamped beam NEMS devices used in these experiments. It is embedded in a nanofabricated three-terminal UHF bridge circuit.
[Credit: Caltech/Akshay Naik, Selim Hanay]
Progressively magnified scanning electron micrographs showing one of the doubly-clamped beam NEMS devices used in these experiments. It is embedded in a nanofabricated three-terminal UHF bridge circuit. [Credit: Caltech/Akshay Naik, Selim Hanay]

Abstract:
Using devices millionths of a meter in size, physicists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have developed a technique to determine the mass of a single molecule, in real time.

The mass of molecules is traditionally measured using mass spectrometry, in which samples consisting of tens of thousands of molecules are ionized, to produce charged versions of the molecules, or ions. Those ions are then directed into an electric field, where their motion, which is choreographed by both their mass and their charge, allows the determination of their so-called mass-to-charge ratio. From this, their mass can ultimately be ascertained.

Caltech Physicists Create First Nanoscale Mass Spectrometer: Device can instantly measure the mass of an individual molecule

PASADENA, CA | Posted on July 22nd, 2009

The new technique, developed over 10 years of effort by Michael L. Roukes, a professor of physics, applied physics, and bioengineering at the Caltech and codirector of Caltech's Kavli Nanoscience Institute, and his colleagues, simplifies and miniaturizes the process through the use of very tiny nanoelectromechanical system (NEMS) resonators. The bridge-like resonators, which are 2 micrometers long and 100 nanometers wide, vibrate at a high frequency and effectively serve as the "scale" of the mass spectrometer.

"The frequency at which the resonator vibrates is directly proportional to its mass," explains research physicist Askshay Naik, the first author of a paper about the work that appears in the latest issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology. Changes in the vibration frequency, then, correspond to changes in mass.

"When a protein lands on the resonator, it causes a decrease in the frequency at which the resonator vibrates and the frequency shift is proportional to the mass of the protein," Naik says.

As described in the paper, the researchers used the instrument to test a sample of the protein bovine serum albumin (BSA), which is known to have a mass of 66 kilodaltons (kDa; a dalton is a unit of mass used to describe atomic and molecular masses, with one dalton approximately equal to the mass of one hydrogen atom).

The BSA protein ions are produced in vapor form using an electrospray ionization (ESI) system.The ions are then sprayed on to the NEMS resonator, which vibrates at a frequency of 450 megahertz. "The flux of proteins reaching the NEMS is such that only one to two protein lands on the resonator in a minute," Naik says.

When the BSA protein molecule is dropped onto the resonator, the resonator's vibration frequency decreases by as much as 1.2 kiloHertz-a small, but readily detectable, change. In contrast, the beta-amylase protein molecule, which has a mass of about 200 kDa, or three times that of BSA, causes a maximum frequency shift of about 3.6 kHz.

Because the location where the protein lands on the resonator also affects the frequency shift-falling onto the center of the resonator causes a larger change than landing on the end or toward the sides, for example-"we can't tell the mass with a single measurement, but needed about 500 frequency jumps in the published work," Naik says. In future, the researchers will decouple measurements of the mass and the landing position of the molecules being sampled. This technique, which they have already prototyped, will soon enable mass spectra for complicated mixtures to be built up, molecule-by molecule.

Eventually, Roukes and colleagues hope to create arrays of perhaps hundreds of thousands of the NEMS mass spectrometers, working in parallel, which could determine the masses of hundreds of thousands of molecules "in an instant," Naik says.

As Roukes points out, "the next generation of instrumentation for the life sciences-especially those for systems biology, which allows us to reverse-engineer biological systems-must enable proteomic analysis with very high throughput. The potential power of our approach is that it is based on semiconductor microelectronics fabrication, which has allowed creation of perhaps mankind's most complex technology."

The paper, "Towards single-molecule nanomechanical mass spectrometry," appears in the July 4 issue of Nature Nanotechnology. The other authors of the paper are graduate student Mehmet S. Hanay and staff scientist Philip Feng, from Caltech, and Wayne K. Hiebert of the National Research Council of Canada. The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health and, indirectly, by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:

Kathy Svitil


Caltech Media Relations
1200 E. California Blvd, MC 0-71
Pasadena, CA 91125
Tel: 626.395.3226
Fax: 626.577.5492

Copyright © Caltech

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 News Press

News and information

Sandia researchers make solid ground toward better lithium-ion battery interfaces: Reducing the traffic jam in batteries December 13th, 2017

Perking up and crimping the 'bristles' of polyelectrolyte brushes December 13th, 2017

Columbia engineers create artificial graphene in a nanofabricated semiconductor structure: Researchers are the first to observe the electronic structure of graphene in an engineered semiconductor; finding could lead to progress in advanced optoelectronics and data processing December 13th, 2017

Leti to Demo Wristband with Embedded Sensors to Diagnose Sleep Apnea: APNEAband, Which Will Be Demonstrated at CES 2018, Also Monitors Mountain Sickness, Dehydration, Dialysis Treatment Response and Epileptic Seizures December 12th, 2017

Discoveries

Sandia researchers make solid ground toward better lithium-ion battery interfaces: Reducing the traffic jam in batteries December 13th, 2017

Perking up and crimping the 'bristles' of polyelectrolyte brushes December 13th, 2017

Columbia engineers create artificial graphene in a nanofabricated semiconductor structure: Researchers are the first to observe the electronic structure of graphene in an engineered semiconductor; finding could lead to progress in advanced optoelectronics and data processing December 13th, 2017

Untangling DNA: Researchers filter the entropy out of nanopore measurements December 8th, 2017

Announcements

Sandia researchers make solid ground toward better lithium-ion battery interfaces: Reducing the traffic jam in batteries December 13th, 2017

Perking up and crimping the 'bristles' of polyelectrolyte brushes December 13th, 2017

Columbia engineers create artificial graphene in a nanofabricated semiconductor structure: Researchers are the first to observe the electronic structure of graphene in an engineered semiconductor; finding could lead to progress in advanced optoelectronics and data processing December 13th, 2017

Leti to Demo Wristband with Embedded Sensors to Diagnose Sleep Apnea: APNEAband, Which Will Be Demonstrated at CES 2018, Also Monitors Mountain Sickness, Dehydration, Dialysis Treatment Response and Epileptic Seizures December 12th, 2017

Tools

Perking up and crimping the 'bristles' of polyelectrolyte brushes December 13th, 2017

Untangling DNA: Researchers filter the entropy out of nanopore measurements December 8th, 2017

JPK Instruments announce partnership with Swiss company, Cytosurge AG. The partnership makes Cytosurge’s FluidFM® technology available on the JPK NanoWizard® AFM platform December 8th, 2017

Researchers advance technique to detect ovarian cancer: Rice, MD Anderson use fluorescent carbon nanotube probes to achieve first in vivo success November 30th, 2017

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