Continuous Biomolecule Separation in a Nanofilter Array Chip

Applications

  • Filtering of small bioparticles including proteins and carbohydrates
  • Filtering of nanotechnology tools (e.g., nanoparticles, nanotubes) for pure sample fabrication
  • DNA sequencing

Problem Addressed

This technology provides a method and an apparatus for fractionating biomolecules such as proteins, carbohydrates and DNA and nanotechnology tools by size. A novel microfabricated nanofilter improves miniaturization and automation of the fractionation process through a gel-free technique.

Technology

A challenge in systems biology and in biomarker and biosensing applications is the separation and identification of small molecules from complex biological samples or cells. Often, biomarkers which need to be identified are very small, but they are intermixed with a large number of bigger molecules within the sample. Gel electrophoresis is a standard method for conventional size-separation, however it is generally slow and hard to automate, and requires bulky equipment. Capillary electrophoresis is the current state-of-the-art size-based separation technique for proteins, however its polymeric liquid-sieving matrix can interfere with separation and detection, again limiting the automation of the sample preparation process. Microfluidic size-based separation techniques have demonstrated a lot of success in miniaturizing and automating this process, however because these are general gel-based devices similar limitations exist as in conventional methods. The present technology introduces a novel gel-free microfabricated nanofilter array chip with an applied electrostatic or hydrodynamic field for size-based biomolecule separation.

Advantages

  • Allows for easier automation of size-based separation process  
  • Enables small biomarker separation and detection with efficacy comparable to the current state-of-the-art
  • Chemically and mechanically robust system for long-time use
  • Gel-free size separation technique