Towards a better understanding of noise in nanopores

Ralph Scheicher
Ralph Scheicher. Photo: Camilla Thulin.

The Swedish Research Council has reached a decision on Natural and Engineering Sciences on the calls Research Project Grants and Starting Grants for the period 2017-2021. The projects will start during 2018.

Project Description

Project title: Towards a better understanding of noise in nanopores
Main applicant: Ralph Scheicher, Division of Materials Theory
Grant amount: 3 200 000 SEK for the period 2017-2021
Funder: Project grant from the Swedish Research Council

Project description

The existence of noise in nanopore experiments aiming to electrically sequence DNA or analyze proteins is a serious problem and constitutes one of the main obstacles that prevent this novel approach from reaching its full potential. In order to rationally develop new designs for nanopore architectures with a significantly reduced noise level, we need to first obtain a better understanding of the various sources of electronic noise that can originate when a nano-sized object is coupled to a dynamic aqueous environment, in the presence of ions and the bio-molecules to be analyzed. The proposed project aims to make tangible progress on this topic through an ambitious four-year research plan that deeply connects theory with experiment. We will focus on exploring nanopores in two-dimensional materials, such as graphene and molybdenum disulfide, and develop a theoretical model framework which can help to understand the different sources of noise in these systems. In parallel, fabrication and characterization in the lab will provide feedback on the modelling efforts, leading to step-wise improvements, until the model is deemed reliable enough to make predictions which can then guide our experiments towards nanopore architectures with an optimal signal-to-noise ratio. Such an achievement will be extremely valuable for the field of nanopore DNA sequencing and could enable the development of ubiquitous economic whole genome analysis in laboratories and clinics worldwide.