Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Graphene ‘sandwich’ improves imaging of biomolecules

Robert KliePhoto: UIC Photo Services
Robert Klie

Photo: UIC Photo Services

Abstract:
By sandwiching a biological molecule between sheets of graphene, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have obtained atomic-level images of the molecule in its natural watery environment.

Graphene ‘sandwich’ improves imaging of biomolecules

Chicago, IL | Posted on February 5th, 2014

The results are published online in advance of print in the journal Advanced Materials.

The molecule, ferritin, is a highly conserved protein that regulates the levels of iron in animals and plants. Ferritin can sequester excess iron, which can be toxic, and release it when it is needed.

"We found a way to encapsulate a liquid sample in two very thin layers of graphene — sheets of carbon that are only one atom thick," said Canhui Wang, UIC graduate student in physics and first author of the study.

Electron microscopes let researchers see at the level of individual atoms. But to do so they must put the samples in a vacuum, making it impossible to image biomolecules in water in their natural, functional state. Biological samples have usually been placed in a container called a "liquid stage," wedged between relatively thick windows of silicon nitrate.

Robert Klie, the senior investigator on the study, says the thin layers of graphene in the new system work better, being nearly transparent.

"It's like the difference between looking through Saran Wrap and thick crystal," said Klie, who is associate professor of physics and mechanical and industrial engineering at UIC.

Not only resolution improved compared to the liquid stage. The graphene sandwich also minimizes damage to the sample from radiation, said Wang.

According to Wang, some people have calculated that just to barely visualize a sample requires the equivalent of 10 times the radiation 30 meters away from a 10 megaton hydrogen bomb. "We often use an electron beam that is several orders of magnitude more intense in our experiments," he said.

Graphene has an extraordinarily high thermal and electro-conductivity, said Klee, and is able to conduct away both the heat and the electrons generated as the electron microscope's beam passes through the sample.

Instead of using a low-energy beam to minimize damage, which yields a fuzzy picture that must be refined using a mathematical algorithm, the scientists were able to use high energies to generate images of ferritin at atomic level resolution. This enabled them to see, in a single functioning molecule, that iron oxide in ferritin's core changes its electrical charge, initiating the release of iron.

This insight into how the ferritin core handles iron may lead to a better understanding of what goes wrong in many human disorders, said Tolou Shokuhfar, assistant professor of mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics at Michigan Technological University and adjunct professor of physics at UIC, the principal investigator of the study.

"Defects in ferritin are associated with many diseases and disorders, but it has not been well understood how a dysfunctional ferritin works towards triggering life-threatening diseases in the brain and other parts of the human body," said Shokuhfar.

Wang had to solve a number of technical issues to develop the new technique, said Klie, but the graphene sandwich will now "open up analysis of biological and other difficult to image samples to almost anyone with an electron microscope." In contrast, he said, the standard liquid stage requires a large upfront investment in equipment and expensive preparation of each sample.

With graphene, once the technique is mastered, preparation of samples can be done quickly and cheaply, said Wang.

Qiao Qiao, formerly a graduate student in Klie's UIC lab and now a postdoctoral fellow at Vanderbilt University, is also a co-author on the study.

The work was funded by Michigan Technological University and a grant to UIC from the National Science Foundation, DMR-0959470.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Jeanne Galatzer-Levy

312-996-1583

Copyright © University of Illinois at Chicago

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

Imaging

Caught on camera -- chemical reactions 'filmed' at the single-molecule level March 22nd, 2017

JPK’s NanoWizard® AFM systems are used at the University of Sheffield to understand soft matter and biological systems at the molecular scale March 7th, 2017

News and information

Caught on camera -- chemical reactions 'filmed' at the single-molecule level March 22nd, 2017

Rare-earths become water-repellent only as they age March 22nd, 2017

Pulverizing e-waste is green, clean -- and cold: Rice, Indian Institute researchers use cryo-mill to turn circuit boards into separated powders March 21st, 2017

CRMGroup in Belgium uses a Deben three point bending stage in the development of new steel & coated steel products for automotive and other industrial applications March 21st, 2017

Graphene/ Graphite

Intertronics introduce new nanoparticle deagglomeration technology March 15th, 2017

Space energy technology restored to make power stations more efficient: Scientists use graphene to reinvent abandoned heat energy converter technology March 7th, 2017

Graphene sheets capture cells efficiently: New method could enable pinpoint diagnostics on individual blood cells March 3rd, 2017

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Electro-optical switch transmits data at record-low temperatures: Operating at temperatures near absolute zero, switch could enable significantly faster data processing with lower power consumption March 20th, 2017

AIM Photonics Welcomes Coventor as Newest Member: US-Backed Initiative Taps Process Modeling Specialist to Enable Manufacturing of High-Yield, High-Performance Integrated Photonic Designs March 16th, 2017

Researchers develop groundbreaking process for creating ultra-selective separation membranes: Discovery could greatly improve energy-efficiency of separation and purification processes in the chemical and petrochemical industries March 15th, 2017

Nanogate Expands Sustainability Management: Nanogate publishes a statement of compliance with the German Sustainability Code for the first time March 15th, 2017

Nanomedicine

Nanoparticle paves the way for new triple negative breast cancer drug March 20th, 2017

Block copolymer micellization as a protection strategy for DNA origami March 17th, 2017

Nanocages for gold particles: what is happening inside? March 16th, 2017

Biophysicists propose new approach for membrane protein crystallization March 8th, 2017

Discoveries

Caught on camera -- chemical reactions 'filmed' at the single-molecule level March 22nd, 2017

Rare-earths become water-repellent only as they age March 22nd, 2017

Pulverizing e-waste is green, clean -- and cold: Rice, Indian Institute researchers use cryo-mill to turn circuit boards into separated powders March 21st, 2017

Electro-optical switch transmits data at record-low temperatures: Operating at temperatures near absolute zero, switch could enable significantly faster data processing with lower power consumption March 20th, 2017

Announcements

Caught on camera -- chemical reactions 'filmed' at the single-molecule level March 22nd, 2017

Rare-earths become water-repellent only as they age March 22nd, 2017

Pulverizing e-waste is green, clean -- and cold: Rice, Indian Institute researchers use cryo-mill to turn circuit boards into separated powders March 21st, 2017

CRMGroup in Belgium uses a Deben three point bending stage in the development of new steel & coated steel products for automotive and other industrial applications March 21st, 2017

Grants/Sponsored Research/Awards/Scholarships/Gifts/Contests/Honors/Records

Rice lab expands palette for color-changing glass: Nanophotonics team creates low-voltage, multicolor, electrochromic glass March 8th, 2017

Sandia use confined nanoparticles to improve hydrogen storage materials performance: Big changes from a small package for hydrogen storage February 25th, 2017

Oxford Instruments announces Dr Brad Ramshaw of Cornell University, as winner of the 2017 Lee Osheroff Richardson Science Prize February 20th, 2017

Nominations Invited for $250,000 Kabiller Prize in Nanoscience: Major international prize recognizes a visionary nanotechnology researcher February 20th, 2017

Research partnerships

Pulverizing e-waste is green, clean -- and cold: Rice, Indian Institute researchers use cryo-mill to turn circuit boards into separated powders March 21st, 2017

Nanoparticle paves the way for new triple negative breast cancer drug March 20th, 2017

Next-gen steel under the microscope March 18th, 2017

Block copolymer micellization as a protection strategy for DNA origami March 17th, 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