25. A Microchip For Observing Single Molecules

Watt W. Webb, Applied and Engineering Physics, and research colleagues optically isolated individual biological molecules in naturally occurring molecular concentrations and observed their complex behavior as they interacted with a protein. The researchers created a microchip with light-impeding holes with a diameter one-tenth of the wavelength of light. This new technique is the result of the capability of nanofabrication. The researchers made the microchip from aluminum and glass in the Cornell NanoScale Science and Technology Facility. Before this experiment, this type of detailed observation was not accessible. The technique could lead to a new method of DNA sequencing by which genetic code can be read from a single DNA molecule. Because the technique is a very powerful way of looking at fluctuations and variability in behavior of individual enzyme molecules, it could aid in future drug discovery.

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