First nanofluidic transistorResearchers create first nanofluidic transistor, the basis of future chemical processors
By Robert Sanders, Media Relations | 28 June 2005
BERKELEY – University of California, Berkeley, researchers have invented a variation on the standard electronic transistor, creating the first "nanofluidic" transistor that allows them to control the movement of ions through sub-microscopic, water-filled channels.
The researchers - a chemist and a mechanical engineer - predict that, just as the electronic transistor became the main component of microprocessors and integrated circuits, so will nanofluidic transistors anchor molecular processors, allowing microscopic chemical plants on a chip that operate without moving parts. No valves to get stuck, no pumps to blow, no mixers to get clogged.
"A transistor is like a valve, but you use electricity to open or close it," explained Arun Majumdar, professor of mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley. "Here, we use a voltage to open or close an ion channel. Now that we've shown you can make this building block, we can hook it up to an electronic chip to control the fluidics."
If the ions are proteins, they can be shuttled through channels lined with fluorescent antibodies for detecting or sensing. If the ions are pieces of DNA, they can be sorted and sequenced. In fact, the authors say, any highly sensitive biomolecular sensing down to the level of a single molecule could be performed with nanofluidic transistors. They demonstrated that labeled, charged DNA fragments could be manipulated in their transistor.
06.28.2005 - Researchers create first nanofluidic transistor, the basis of future chemical processors
This technology will be a big step in converting electrical - digital - information into useable matter. An important step in future artifacturing applications.