• Question: How are Nano Sensors programmed

    Asked by anon-254094 to Shriram, Sandra on 22 May 2020.
    • Photo: Sandra Greive

      Sandra Greive answered on 22 May 2020:

      Nanosensors aren’t really programmed like computers or normal electronic sensors. They are tuned or specified during the process of being made (fabricated). The solid state or nonbiological components are made using advanced nanofabrication techniques to the specifications required by the final sensing application. The biocomponents are ‘engineered’ using molecular biology and protein production. This is where we introduce mutations into the protein to give it particular properties, for example to bind to a specific target; or to make it a different shape or charge. Then we use use special chemical reactions to attach a specific amino acid on the protein to the nonbiological surface in a particular orientation. The nano sensor I work on is coupling a protein, that is shaped like champaign cork with hole or pore through the long axis, into a tiny tiny hole in very thin silicon membrane. We can use this system to measure the real-time changes in electrical current as molecules move through the hole in the protein supported by the silicon membrane. The shape and size of the changes in the current are like a fingerprint for particular molecules, and can be used to identify them.