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June 22, 2015

Translocation of virus through a nanopore

A screenshot from a computer simulation of the translocation of a stiff, filamentous fd virus through a nanopore. The background color gradient indicates the electric potential in the region of the pore, as generated by applying a voltage across the system.

Nanopores could provide a new way to sequence DNA quickly, but the physics involved isn't well understood. That's partly because of the complexities involved in studying the random, squiggly form DNA takes in solution. Now, researchers at Brown University have simplified matters by using a stiff, rod-like virus instead of DNA to experiment with nanopores. Their research has uncovered previously unknown dynamics in polymer-nanopore interactions.

The findings, published in Nature Communications, may not only help in the development of nanopore devices for DNA sequencing, they could also lead to a new way of detecting dangerous pathogens.

This research was funded in part by National Science Foundation grants CBET 08-46505 and PHY 10-58375.

To learn more, see the Brown news story A virus reveals the physics of nanopores. (Date of Image: April 2013)

Credit: Hendrick W. de Haan, University of Ontario Institute of Technology

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