skip to main content


The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 10:00 PM ET on Friday, December 8 until 2:00 AM ET on Saturday, December 9 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Title: Fabrication of hexagonal boron nitride based 2D nanopore sensor for the assessment of electro‐chemical responsiveness of human serum transferrin protein

In this work, we present a step‐by‐step workflow for the fabrication of 2D hexagonal boron nitride (h‐BN) nanopores which are then used to sense holo‐human serum transferrin (hSTf) protein at pH ∼8 under applied voltages ranging from +100 mV to +800 mV. 2D nanopores are often used for DNA, however, there is a great void in the literature for single‐molecule protein sensing and this, to the best of our knowledge, is the first time where h‐BN—a material with large band‐gap, low dielectric constant, reduced parasitic capacitance and minimal charge transfer induced noise—is used for protein profiling. The corresponding ΔG(change in pore conductance due to analyte translocation) profiles showed a bimodal Gaussian distribution where the lower and higher ΔGdistributions were attributed to (pseudo‐) folded and unfolded conformations respectively. With increasing voltage, the voltage induced unfolding increased (evident by decrease in ΔG) and plateaued after ∼400 mV of applied voltage. From the ΔGversus voltage profile corresponding to the pseudo‐folded state, we calculated the molecular radius of hSTf, and was found to be ∼3.1 nm which is in close concordance with the literature reported value of ∼3.25 nm.

more » « less
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 630-637
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Electrolyte chemistry plays an important role in the transport properties of analytes through nanopores. Here, we report the translocation properties of the protein human serum transferrin (hSTf) in asymmetric LiCl salt concentrations with either positive (Ctrans/Ccis< 1) or negative chemical gradients (Ctrans/Ccis> 1). Thecisside concentration was fixed at 4 M for positive chemical gradients and at 0.5 M LiCl for negative chemical gradients, while thetransside concentration varied between 0.5 to 4 M which resulted in six different configurations, respectively, for both positive and negative gradient types. For positive chemical gradient conditions, translocations were observed in all six configurations for at least one voltage polarity whereas with negative gradient conditions, dead concentrations where no events at either polarity were observed. The flux of Li+and Clions and their resultant cation or anion enrichment zones, as well as the interplay of electrophoretic and electroosmotic transport directions, would determine whether hSTf can traverse across the pore.

    more » « less
  2. null (Ed.)
    Nanopore probing of molecular level transport of proteins is strongly influenced by electrolyte type, concentration, and solution pH. As a result, electrolyte chemistry and applied voltage are critical for protein transport and impact, for example, capture rate ( C R ), transport mechanism ( i.e. , electrophoresis, electroosmosis or diffusion), and 3D conformation ( e.g. , chaotropic vs. kosmotropic effects). In this study, we explored these using 0.5–4 M LiCl and KCl electrolytes with holo-human serum transferrin (hSTf) protein as the model protein in both low (±50 mV) and high (±400 mV) electric field regimes. Unlike in KCl, where events were purely electrophoretic, the transport in LiCl transitioned from electrophoretic to electroosmotic with decreasing salt concentration while intermediate concentrations ( i.e. , 2 M and 2.5 M) were influenced by diffusion. Segregating diffusion-limited capture rate ( R diff ) into electrophoretic ( R diff,EP ) and electroosmotic ( R diff,EO ) components provided an approach to calculate the zeta-potential of hSTf ( ζ hSTf ) with the aid of C R and zeta potential of the nanopore surface ( ζ pore ) with ( ζ pore – ζ hSTf ) governing the transport mechanism. Scrutinization of the conventional excluded volume model revealed its shortcomings in capturing surface contributions and a new model was then developed to fit the translocation characteristics of proteins. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    The controlled nanoscale patterning of 2D materials is a promising approach for engineering the optoelectronic, thermal, and mechanical properties of these materials to achieve novel functionalities and devices. Herein, high‐resolution patterning of hexagonal boron nitride (h‐BN) is demonstrated via both helium and neon ion beams and an optimal dosage range for both ions that serve as a baseline for insulating 2D materials is identified. Through this nanofabrication approach, a grating with a 35 nm pitch, individual structure sizes down to 20 nm, and additional nanostructures created by patterning crystal step edges are demonstrated. Raman spectroscopy is used to study the defects induced by the ion beam patterning and is correlated to scanning probe microscopy. Photothermal and scanning near‐field optical microscopy measure the resulting near‐field absorption and scattering of the nanostructures. These measurements reveal a large photothermal expansion of nanostructured h‐BN that is dependent on the height to width aspect ratio of the nanostructures. This effect is attributed to the large anisotropy of the thermal expansion coefficients of h‐BN and the nanostructuring implemented. The photothermal expansion should be present in other van der Waals materials with large anisotropy and can lead to applications such as nanomechanical switches driven by light.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    A nanopore device is capable of providing single‐molecule level information of an analyte as they translocate through the sensing aperture—a nanometer‐sized through‐hole—under the influence of an applied electric field. In this study, a silicon nitride (SixNy)‐based nanopore was used to characterize the human serum transferrin receptor protein (TfR) under various applied voltages. The presence of dimeric forms of TfR was found to decrease exponentially as the applied electric field increased. Further analysis of monomeric TfR also revealed that its unfolding behaviors were positively dependent on the applied voltage. Furthermore, a comparison between the data of monomeric TfR and its ligand protein, human serum transferrin (hSTf), showed that these two protein populations, despite their nearly identical molecular weights, could be distinguished from each other by means of a solid‐state nanopore (SSN). Lastly, the excluded volumes of TfR were experimentally determined at each voltage and were found to be within error of their theoretical values. The results herein demonstrate the successful application of an SSN for accurately classifying monomeric and dimeric molecules while the two populations coexist in a heterogeneous mixture.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Pivotal to functional van der Waals stacked flexible electronic/excitonic/spintronic/thermoelectric chips is the synergy amongst constituent layers. However; the current techniques viz. sequential chemical vapor deposition, micromechanical/wet‐chemical transfer are mostly limited due to diffused interfaces, and metallic remnants/bubbles at the interface. Inter‐layer‐coupled 2+δ‐dimensional materials, as a new class of materials can be significantly suitable for out‐of‐plane carrier transport and hence prompt response in prospective devices. Here, the discovery of the use of exotic electric field ≈106 V cm1(at microwave hot‐spot) and 2 thermomechanical conditions i.e. pressure ≈1 MPa, T ≈ 200 °C (during solvothermal reaction) to realize 2+δ‐dimensional materials is reported. It is found that PzPzchemical bonds form between the component layers, e.g., CB and CN in G‐BN, MoN and MoB in MoS2‐BN hybrid systems as revealed by X‐ray photoelectron spectroscopy. New vibrational peaks in Raman spectra (BC ≈1320 cm–1for the G‐BN system and MoB ≈365 cm–1for the MoS2‐BN system) are recorded. Tunable mid‐gap formation, along with diodic behavior (knee voltage ≈0.7 V, breakdown voltage ≈1.8 V) in the reduced graphene oxide‐reduced BN oxide (RGO‐RBNO) hybrid system is also observed. Band‐gap tuning in MoS2‐BN system is observed. Simulations reveal stacking‐dependent interfacial charge/potential drops, hinting at the feasibility of next‐generation functional devices/sensors.

    more » « less