Single molecule sensing by nanopores and nanopore devices

Li Qun Gu, Ji Wook Shim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

150 Scopus citations


Molecular-scale pore structures, called nanopores, can be assembled by protein ion channels through genetic engineering or be artificially fabricated on solid substrates using fashion nanotechnology. When target molecules interact with the functionalized lumen of a nanopore, they characteristically block the ion pathway. The resulting conductance changes allow for identification of single molecules and quantification of target species in the mixture. In this review, we first overview nanopore-based sensory techniques that have been created for the detection of myriad biomedical targets, from metal ions, drug compounds, and cellular second messengers to proteins and DNA. Then we introduce our recent discoveries in nanopore single molecule detection: (1) using the protein nanopore to study folding/unfolding of the G-quadruplex aptamer; (2) creating a portable and durable biochip that is integrated with a single-protein pore sensor (this chip is compared with recently developed protein pore sensors based on stabilized bilayers on glass nanopore membranes and droplet interface bilayer); and (3) creating a glass nanopore-terminated probe for single-molecule DNA detection, chiral enantiomer discrimination, and identification of the bioterrorist agent ricin with an aptamer-encoded nanopore.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)441-451
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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